Chechen President Alu Alkhanov told journalists in Grozny on January 17 that the process of “stabilization” in Chechnya was irreversible, RIA Novosti reported. The republic’s “illegal armed formations” are unable to mount large-scale operations, he said, but added that the presence of “foreign mercenaries” in Chechnya is cause for some concern. “The law enforcement organs have some work to do, but the gang formations are not capable of significantly influencing the socio-political situation in the Chechen Republic,” Alkhanov said. Lieutenant-General Oleg Khotin, commander of Provisional Operational Group of the federal Interior Ministry’s units in the North Caucasus, told journalists that approximately 40 “foreign mercenaries” are operating in Chechnya. Khotin did not specify which countries they were from but said citizens of Turkey and Jordan had recently been captured. Earlier, Khotin told the Chechen Interior Ministry’s collegium that 70 to 75 rebel groups totaling 730 people and including “foreign mercenaries” are operating in Chechnya. Deputy Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, who is currently serving as the republic’s acting prime minister, told journalists on January 18 that only 150-200 rebels are operating in Chechnya, RIA Novosti reported.
Kavkazky Uzel, citing Agence France-Presse, reported on January 18 that six Russian servicemen had been killed and five wounded over the period of January 16-17. The French news agency, citing a source in Chechnya’s pro-Moscow administration, reported three soldiers had been killed and one wounded in 11 rebel attacks on federal military positions, and that another soldier was killed and two wounded when their truck came under rebel fire near the Shali district village of Duba-Yurt. According to the Italian news agency ASCA, two soldiers were killed and two wounded when their truck was blown up in the town of Samashki.
Also citing Agence France-Presse, Kavkazky Uzel reported on January 16 that four Russian soldiers had been killed and 13 wounded over the period of January 15-16. According to an AFP source in the Chechen administration, one federal serviceman was killed and four wounded in 14 rebel attacks on federal positions, while two Russian soldiers were killed and two wounded when their armored personnel carrier was blown up near the village of Eshilkhatoi in Chechnya’s Vedeno district. A remote-controlled bomb blew up a Russian army jeep near Nozhai-Yurt on January 15, wounding four soldiers, one of whom later died in the hospital. Canada’s Cyberpresse agency reported that one policeman was killed and three injured in Grozny when a bomb blew up their car. Agence-France-Presse reported that over January 13-15, Chechen rebels attacked federal positions ten times, killing two soldiers and wounding two. Another soldier was killed and one wounded in a bomb blast near the Khankala military base outside Grozny. The Associated Press quoted police officials as saying on January 16 that a teenage boy was injured when an explosive device went off in a container for construction debris on the edge of the town of Alkhan-Yurt.