| Updated at: 1118 PST, Tuesday, October 19, 2010|
GROZNY: Militants seized the parliament building in Russia's Caucasus region of Chechnya on Tuesday, taking hostages and killing security guards, officials said.
"The parliament building has been seized and hostages taken," a local interior ministry official told media, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official said an unspecified number of guards at the parliament had been killed and an aide to the speaker had been wounded.
A news agency reported that a suicide bomber had also blown himself up in the grounds of the parliament, killing two people.
Another news agency said that several militants had stormed the parliament building and that shooting continued inside.
Russian news agency said between three and four militants had seized the building and shooting was continuing but there had not been any explosions.
"At the moment the shooting is continuing and special units of interior ministry troops, riot police and the Chechen presidential security service are arriving at the building," a security source told Russian agency.
It said that according to some sources the shooting was in the office of the parliament speaker.
It said parliamentary speaker Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov remained in the parliament building and had not been hurt. It said three security guards had were killed in the fighting.
Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, on a trip to the Chechen capital Grozny, has been informed about the shooting, agency said.
The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the Northern Caucasus since after the collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a war in 1994-1996 against separatist rebels in Chechnya.
However, after a second war broke out in Chechnya in 1999, the rebellion's inspiration moved towards Islam with the aim of imposing an Islamic state in the region.
Although the war ended in 2000, rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency with unrest spreading into other areas of the Northern Caucasus such as Dagestan and Ingushetia.
Chechnya has in the past years seen a relative improvement in security under its strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov although attacks remain a common occurrence.
But Kadyrov, himself an ex-rebel, has been heavily criticised for his tough tactics by rights groups, who accuse him of torture and using his own personal forces to crack down on critics.
Russia remains on high alert for militant attacks after the double bombings carried out by two female suicide bombers on the Moscow metro on March 29 killed 40 and wounded more than 100.
Over 330 people were killed in Russia's most shocking hostage tragedy in 2004 when Chechen militants stormed a school in the town of Beslan in the Northern Cacuasus region of North Ossetia.