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At least 19 dead as gun battle breaks out in Chechnya

The media building burns as militants attack in central Grozny on December 4, 2014. Several police died in clashes with militants who attacked a traffic post in the Chechen capital Grozny and then stormed a building housing local media, Russian officials said on Thursday.
The media building burns as militants attack in central Grozny on December 4, 2014. Several police died in clashes with militants who attacked a traffic post in the Chechen capital Grozny and then stormed a building housing local media, Russian officials said on Thursday. ELENA FITKULINA/AFP/Getty Images

GROZNY, Russia – Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee says 10 police officers were killed and 28 wounded in gun battles with militants in the capital of Chechnya.

The leader of the Russian republic announced that at least nine of the militants were killed before the fighting ended.

The gun battles left a 10-story building and a school in ruins in the centre of the Chechen capital, Grozny.

The fighting early Thursday punctured the patina of stability ensured by years of heavy-handed rule by the Kremlin-appointed leader.

The violence erupted hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual state of the nation address.

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