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Russia's Putin praises 'professional' security operation in Chechnya

Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including State Duma deputies, members of the Federation Council, the heads of the Constitutional and Supreme courts, regional governors, heads of Russia's traditional religious faiths and public figures, at the Kremlin in Moscow, December 4, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin praised the Kremlin-backed leader of Russia’s southern republic of Chechnya for a “professional” security operation on Thursday in which 10 policemen and 10 suspected militants were killed, Interfax reported.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said 28 policemen had also been wounded during the fighting in the regional capital Grozny after gunmen attacked a police post and stormed two buildings early on Thursday.

“The criminals, as usual ... were shooting in the back,” Interfax quoted Putin as telling Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov in Moscow.

“They didn’t attack your special units carrying out the fight against terrorism. They attacked traffic police, people whose duty it is to keep order on the roads and ensure normal functioning of transport. That’s who they attacked.”

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Gareth Jones