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BosNewsLife – There were fears Friday, October 14, about the plight of missionaries and churches in Nalchik , the capital of Russia ‘s Northern Caucasus region of Kabardino-Balkaria, where Christians were forced to flee after rebels launched a series of attacks killing at least 85 people.

Russian Ministries, a Christian organization supporting missionaries, churches and Christian aid projects there said its “children’s ministry director in Nalchik” Marina Kudasheva fled along with her family “before President Vladimir Putin ordered a citywide lock down.”

However “the Kudashev family is safe, and waiting for word to return home,” Russian Ministries’ Vice President Sergey Rakhuba told BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest .

The fighting in this southern Russian city began Thursday, October 13, but local media quoted regional government head Gennady Gubin as saying that all hostages had been freed. Officials stressed at least 85 people, including 61 attackers, had been killed in the violence.

But “residents of Nalchik claim that the number of people killed is higher than what is being reported,” claimed Rakhuba. “The attack shut down communications centers and the airport [while] the main police station and the FSB (successor of the KGB) office also came under attack.”

He said “Russian Ministries sources” reported “that as many as 600 terrorists carried out the attack in a planned effort to block communications and security.” He noted that Nalchik is only 60 miles (96 kilometers) from the town of Beslan where it has been active since last year when hundreds of people, most of them children were killed bloody hostage drama around a local school.

“Shamil Basayev, the Chechen warlord who claimed responsibility for the Beslan tragedy in September 2004, has been linked to this attack by Russian news sources,” Rakhuba explained.

Kabardino-Balkariya is near Chechnya , where rebels seeking independence from Moscow rule have been fighting against Russian forces for most of the past decade and the assault on Nalchik raised fears that a new front was opening in the troubled Russian Caucasus. Dagestan, another Caucasus republic, has suffered a sharp rise in violence this year, with bomb attacks and clashes between police and fighters of uncertain affiliation reported almost daily, news reports said.

The latest violence came as a major setback for Russian Ministries which had been “been planning to hold seminars for children workers in Beslan and the Nalchik area in November,” Rakhuba added. “Russian Ministries has a variety of ministries to present the good news of Jesus to Muslims in Nalchik and the surrounding area, including a strong ‘School Without Walls’ training program.”

He said his organization had urged supporters to “pray that training seminars and ministry outreach will continue to move forward and that Christians will be a voice of hope and peace in midst of terror and unrest.”