Violence has continued in the North Caucasus over the past week in the wake of the March 29 bombings in the Moscow metro, which killed 40 people and were reportedly carried out by two female suicide bombers from Dagestan, and a March 31 suicide bombing in Kizlyar, Dagestan, that killed 12 people, including nine police officers.
One security officer was reportedly wounded in Ingushetia today (April 9), when a female suicide bomber blew herself up near security forces surrounding the site of a special operation targeting militants in the village of Ekazhevo. A source told ITAR-TASS that the woman got out of a car, approached the security forces and started firing a pistol and that an explosive she was apparently carrying or wearing detonated when the security forces fired back at her (www.newsru.com, April 9). Earlier today, Kavkazsky Uzel reported that three members of the security forces carrying out the special operation in Ekazhevo had been seriously wounded. The website quoted an unnamed republican law enforcement source as saying that the operation targeted three suspected rebels who had been hiding in a private home and opened fired after being blockaded and ordered to surrender (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 9). Ekazhevo is where rebel ideologist Said Buryatsky was killed in a security operation last month (EDM, March 5).
On April 7, unidentified attackers reportedly fired a grenade launcher at a liquor store in the Ingush village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya. According to other reports, the attackers did not fire a grenade launcher at the shop, but attempted to blow it up with an explosive device. Whatever the case, the store was seriously damaged but nobody was hurt. It was reportedly the fourth attack on a store selling alcohol –or on the owners of or salespeople at such stores– in Ingushetia this year: on February 27, one person was killed and another wounded in an attack on a liquor store in Nazran (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 9).
A suicide bomber blew himself up at a police station in Karabulak, Ingushetia on April 5, killing two police trainees and wounding two others. The bomber’s car later exploded, wounding an investigator. On April 4, bomb disposal experts destroyed two improvised explosive devices that were discovered in a Russian Orthodox cemetery in Ordzhonikidzevskaya (ITAR-TASS, Interfax, April 5).
An explosion in Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, today reportedly wounded one person. On April 4, an explosion on the Makhachkala section of the North Caucasus railway derailed a freight train. According the local branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the railway explosion had the force of five kilograms of TNT and a second explosive device went off at almost the same time several meters from the first one. The second device had the equivalent of one kilogram of TNT and was packed with metal fragments. However, no one was hurt in either blast (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 9).
Unidentified attackers shot and killed two policemen in Kabardino-Balkaria on April 7. The incident took place in the town of Baksan. The attackers reportedly fired on a police car that was on patrol as it drove near a bus station. The two policemen –29-year-old Lieutenant Aslan Khadzugov and 37-year-old Master Sergeant Aslan Khadzugov– died instantly. Police found 67 shell cartridges of various calibers at the scene of the ambush (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 8). The rebel leader in Kabardino-Balkaria, Anzor Astemirov (aka Seifullah), was killed in the republic’s capital, Nalchik, on March 24 (EDM, March 29).
A Russian serviceman was wounded in Chechnya’s Shali district on April 5. The incident occurred near the village of Avtury, when a roadside bomb went off as an interior ministry internal troops unit was conducting a reconnaissance mission near the Avtury-Germenchuk highway. A source told Kavkazsky Uzel that the device had apparently been detonated remotely by a mobile phone.
Meanwhile, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov insisted on April 7 that the claim of responsibility by Doku Umarov, the Chechen rebel leader and “emir” of the self-proclaimed “Caucasus Emirate,” for the March 29 bombings in the Moscow metro system was a lie. Kadyrov said Umarov is “starving,” unable even to “crush the fleas on his body,” a “dirty, toothless man who is afraid of his own shadow,” and “afraid to sleep at night,” and a “rat that runs from hole to hole,” and thus could not possibly have organized the Moscow bombings. He said Umarov claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings with the aim of provoking law enforcement to persecute people from the North Caucasus in other parts of Russia and thereby turn them into supporters of the insurgency (Interfax, April 7).
On April 8, Kavkazsky Uzel quoted an unnamed “local expert” as saying that there has been a significant increase in the number of columns of military vehicles –armored personnel carriers as well as troop trucks– traveling along Chechnya’s roads. The source said some of the military columns have 10-15 vehicles, compared with the typical five-ten vehicles that normally travel these routes. He said the apparent increase in the number of military vehicles on Chechnya’s roads was probably “connected to the recent terrorist acts in Moscow, Dagestan and Ingushetia, or with the arrival of spring, when the militants seriously step up their activities” (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 8).