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Casualties Reported In Nalchik Violence --> 13 October 2005 -- Police and security forces are continuing to battle armed militants in the center of the city of Nalchik, the capital of Russia's southern republic of Kabardino-Balkaria.

Oleg Shandirov, spokesman for Kabardino-Balkaria's president, said around 10 militants have been killed in the fighting so far. He said some policemen were also killed, but he refused to cite their number. A hospital spokeswoman later told Ekho Moskvy radio that at 20 uniformed policemen died in the fighting. She said at least 40 people were being treated for injuries, with more being brought in by ambulances every hour.

The fighting began after groups of armed militants launched simultaneous attacks this morning against several targets in the city, including the local headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and several police stations.

Kabardino-Balkaria, along with other southern Russian regions, has seen a rise in violence targeting police and security forces, some of it linked to Islamic extremist

(RFE/RL's Russian Service/Interfax/ITAR-TASS/RIA-Novosti/Reuters/AP/AFP)