Chechnya's leader says four gunmen who attacked a Russian Orthodox church in the mostly Muslim province have been killed by security forces and one policeman has died.

Ramzan Kadyrov says the gunmen attempted to take people hostages inside the Archangel Michael Church on Saturday. He says in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that he personally oversaw a special operation in which the assailants were killed.

Kadyrov says a police officer was fatally wounded in the confrontation and a churchgoer was wounded.

Past attacks in Chechnya have involved radical Islamist rebels.

The Kremlin has relied on Kadyrov to stabilize Chechnya after two separatist wars. He has used generous federal subsidies and his feared security forces to crush the Islamist rebellion, but violent clashes still happen occasionally in the region.