Two policemen, a civilian and four assailants left dead in an attack on a church in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya.

Militants, some of whom have sworn allegiance to Daesh, conduct sporadic raids in Chechnya posing a security challenge to Russia as it prepares to host soccer's World Cup next month.
Militants, some of whom have sworn allegiance to Daesh, conduct sporadic raids in Chechnya posing a security challenge to Russia as it prepares to host soccer's World Cup next month. (Reuters Archive)

An attack on an Orthodox church Saturday in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya killed two policemen and a civilian and left four rebels dead, officials said.

"According to early information, two policemen in charge of security at the church ... and a civilian were killed," the officials said. They added that "four rebels have been eliminated" while two other policemen were hurt.

They also indicated a knife and a gun were found on the attackers behind the assault targeting the Archangel Michael church in central Grozny, and said police had prevented "more serious consequences and a larger number of victims."

The attack underscored security challenges in Russia as it prepares to host soccer's World Cup next month.

The provincial capital of Chechnya, Grozny, is not scheduled to host any World Cup games, but the Egyptian team planned to use it as a training base.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov had earlier told Russian news agencies that rebels acting "on the orders of a Western country" were seeking "to take believers hostage" in a troubled republic where Russia has fought two fierce wars with separatists over the past 20 years.

The Chechen leader said three of the attackers were residents of Chechnya and one came from a neighboring region.

After the first 1994-1996 conflict the region, unrest spread through the North Caucasus.

In June 2015, the rebels swore allegiance to Daesh and the region has provided a steady stream of militants to both Syria and Iraq.

Source: AFP