At Least 10 People Reportedly Killed in Chechen Village Battle

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 11

Chechen rebel, pro-Moscow government and independent sources alike reported on March 19-20 that a large-scale battle had taken place in the village of Alkhazurovo in Chechnya’s Urus-Martan district. Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 20 that the battle had taken place the previous evening and that rebels had burned down the village administration building and killed five law-enforcement officers along with two civilians. At least six other people, including two women and a teenager, were wounded in the fighting, the website reported. “To all appearances, up to 15 militants took part in yesterday’s armed clash in the village of Alkhazurovo,” a Chechen police officer told Kavkazky Uzel. “At the moment, actions to find and neutralize this gang are continuing. The militants burned the local administration building, and five employees of power structures (four policemen and an employee of the military prosecutor’s office) and two local residents were killed.”

According to Kavkazky Uzel, estimates of the number of rebels killed in the fighting varied widely. It was claimed that up to eight rebels were killed, but the bodies of only three were found. An unnamed source told the website that one of the slain rebels had been identified and that he was a native of the Groznensky district village of Chechen-Aul.

The rebel Kavkaz-Center website reported on March 19 that a group of 70 rebel fighters had entered Alkhazurovo and that no fewer than 13 policemen had been killed in the ensuing battle, with 7-10 policemen wounded and several taken prisoner. The rebel website claimed that one to six local residents were accidentally killed by police gunfire.

General Major Vyacheslav Kuzmin, who heads the Temporary Operational Group of the Organs and Units of the Russian Interior Ministry, said on March 18 that under the leadership of the Operational Headquarters in the Chechen Republic, 28 commanders and 164 fighters from “illegal armed formations” were “neutralized” last year. He said that 735 participants in “illegal armed formations” and their accomplices were detained across the North Caucasus. Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 20 that according to the Anti-Terrorist Commission of the Chechen Republic, since last April 28, when the commission came into being, special units of the Chechen Interior Ministry and FSB branch “neutralized” 12 field commanders and 60 rebel fighters, while 444 participants in “illegal armed formations” and their accomplices, including 11 rebel commanders, were captured.

In Dagestan, meanwhile, Gitinomagomeddibir Gamzatov, a 75-year-old Khasavyurt resident who practiced non-traditional medicine, was shot to death by two unidentified gunmen near his home in Khasavyurt on March 16. “There is the suspicion that this crime was committed by members of Askhab Bidaev’s gang, who announced that they will be dealing with fortune-tellers and healers, whose work they consider Satanic,” a Dagestani Interior Ministry source told Kavkazky Uzel. Bidaev’s group, which operates in the Khasavyurt district, has been identified as one of Dagestan’s four strongest rebel groups (Chechnya Weekly, February 21). On March 14, four to six alleged militants and two Interior Ministry officers were killed in a clash in Dagestan’s Buinaksk district after security forces launched a special operation there, Prague Watchdog and Kavkazky Uzel reported.

On March 20, a car carrying police officers was fired on by unidentified attackers as it was traveling along the Khasanya-Gerpegezh road in Kabardino-Balkaria, Kavkazky Uzel reported. One of the officers in the car was slightly wounded by the gunfire, which reportedly came from a wooded area. On March 17, an explosive device detonated near the village of Aushiger in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Cherkesk district. No one was hurt in the blast. On March 16, a bomb went off on the side of the road in the village of Khasanya as five OMON officers who were deployed to Kabardino-Balkaria from Nizhegorod Oblast were passing by. No one was hurt in the blast. On March 13, a policeman was wounded in the leg at the Nalchik city hospital after a group of policemen asked two people to show their documents and one of them opened fire. The shooter managed to escape.