The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry was quoted today (November 12) as saying that a blast from an “unidentified explosive device” last night had ruptured a section of the natural gas pipeline stretching between Mozdok, North Ossetia and Kazimagomed, Azerbaijan. The affected section of pipeline is located in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district south of the republican capital Makhachkala. Security guards had reportedly discovered a suspicious item under the pipeline at around 9.00 p.m., local time, and called the Federal Security Service (FSB) bomb disposal experts, but the blast occurred before the FSB unit arrived. The incident cut off gas supplies to villages in Makhachkala’s suburbs and parts of the city itself, affecting an estimated 545,000 people.
Earlier in the day, signs of an explosion were discovered at a section of another natural gas pipeline –this one linking the Baku, Azerbaijan and Novorossiysk, in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai– also in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district. That blast, which was estimated as having the force of one kilogram of TNT, resulted in the pipeline’s deformation, but apparently did not rupture it (www.rbc.ru, www.regnum.ru, Interfax, November 11-12).
Another apparent terrorist attack took place late yesterday in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district, when an explosive device detonated inside a car on the Madzhalis-Makhachkala highway. The car was reportedly registered to a 64-year-old Makhachkala resident and a driver’s license of a 21-year-old resident of the city of Derbent was found inside the vehicle along with the ID’s of two other people, three 100-liter plastic barrels, a gas cooker and gas bottle (www.rosbalt.ru, November 12).
In another incident yesterday, two unidentified gunmen traveling in a Zhiguli car on the outskirts of the city of Khasavyurt opened fire on traffic police post, killing one policeman and wounding another. The shooters managed to escape while the driver, apparently a taxi driver, was taken into custody (www.rbc.ru, November 12).
Two militants were reportedly killed in a shootout with police and FSB personnel in the village of Botashyurt in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district on November 7 (Interfax, November 9).
Meanwhile, Dagestani President Mukhu Aliev told policemen in a speech marking Police Day on November 10 that kidnapping is a shameful phenomenon which is casting a shadow not only on Dagestan’s law enforcement bodies, but the entire republic. Aliev said Dagestan had in recent years managed to sharply curtail kidnappings, but that they had flared up over the last few months. “In various media you hear the idea that members of the law enforcement bodies are involved in the kidnappings,” he said, adding: “Of course, anyone can get hold of a camouflage uniform these days. But while there are cases in which the police located people who went missing, nonetheless the law enforcement bodies will be complicit in those kidnappings as long as they do not solve the crimes. It is the only way to preserve an unsoiled reputation. Protecting the honor not of the uniform, but protecting the honor of each citizen is what guarantees the authority of the law enforcement system.”
Kavkazsky Uzel quoted Aliev as telling the policemen that one of the goals of Dagestan’s Islamic insurgents is to discredit the law enforcement bodies, but that it is necessary to distinguish between “objective criticism of the police” and politically motivated criticism aimed at destabilizing the republic.
According to the Mothers of Dagestan human rights group, 25 people were kidnapped in the republic between February and August of this year, including five young people in August alone. According to the Memorial human rights group, 12 people were kidnapped in Dagestan in 2008 (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, November 11).
Violent incidents have been reported in other republics of the North Caucasus over the last several days. Unidentified attackers in Ingushetia fired a grenade launcher at a gas station in the city of Nazran yesterday. No one was hurt in the resulting blast. Twenty minutes later, unidentified gunmen fired on the administration building in Nazran’s Altievsky municipal district. No one was hurt in that incident either (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, November 12).
On the evening of November 10, unidentified attackers opened fire on police in the city of Karachaevsk, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, wounding two officers and a former colleague who had come by to offer them congratulations on Police Day (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, November 11). The previous day, November 9, four men were killed during a special operation near the village of Indysh in Karachaevo-Cherkessia. The operation was aimed at capturing Ruslan Khubiev, who was suspected of attacking several policemen. Khubiev and three others were killed in a shootout with police, while one policeman was wounded (Interfax, November 9).