Chechen Rebels Kill Seven Russian Policemen in Ambush

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 43

Chechen rebels ambushed an OMON special police detachment from the Republic of Mordovia on the outskirts of the village of Dai in Chechnya’s Sharoi district on November 7, killing seven men, Novye izvestia reported on November 9. According to the newspaper, the rebels fired on the policemen with machineguns and grenade-launchers as they were traveling in two UAZ automobiles on the way back from the district prosecutor’s office to their post in the village of Khimoi, also in the Sharoi district. Seven sergeants and officers were killed in the ambush, including the unit’s deputy commander, while a police major was seriously wounded. The two cars in which they were traveling were completely consumed by flames. Novye izvestia reported that the unit’s slain commander, 33-year-old Sergei Pivtsaikin, had served previous tours of duty in Chechnya and had received the medal “For Services to the Fatherland” second degree. on November 8 quoted the Chechen Republic’s chief prosecutor, Valery Kuznetsov, as saying that, according to preliminary information, the ambush was carried out by rebel fighters loyal to Saidamin Dadaev, whose group operates in the Sharoi district. The newspaper Tvoi den quoted Lt. Col. Nikolai Varavin, who heads the press center of the Regional Operation Headquarters of the Antiterrorist Operation in Chechnya (ROSH), as saying that the attack was carried out by Dadaev’s group and a group led by a rebel fighter identified as Saipudin. Varavin told the newspaper that Saipudin was responsible for “many murders,” including the murder of the “head of the criminal investigation department of Makhachkala” – an apparent reference to the murder of Magomed Magomedov, deputy head of Dagestan’s Criminal Investigation Department, who was killed last March in Makhachkala by a bomb planted underneath his car (Chechnya Weekly, March 30). According the Tvoi den, among the attackers was a rebel fighter named Khusein, a close associate of the late Shamil Basaev who went under the aliases “Chitok” and “Ryzhy.” The newspaper reported that the exact number of policemen who were in the two cars that were attacked is unknown and quoted Chechen Interior Ministry sources as saying that two of the policemen who were traveling in the targeted vehicles may have been taken hostage.

The ambush of the Mordovia OMON detachment was the second attack on the unit in several days. Itar-Tass reported on November 6 that a member of the unit had been killed the previous day by an improvised explosive device on the Kiri Bridge, seven kilometers from Khimoi, where personnel from the unit were standing guard along with members of the Sharoi district police.

Commenting on the ambush of the Mordovia OMON detachment, Novye izvestia wrote: “It is worth recalling that the authorities have stated more than once this year that the militants in Chechnya have been completely smashed and that the situation has calmed down. As recently as the end of August, they were reporting in Grozny that ‘no more than 60 militants remain in the mountains.’ The sortie on the road at the village of Dai demonstrates that the separatists are still capable of carrying out dangerous and daring operations.” (See also Andrei Smirnov’s piece below).

Separately, Kavkazky Uzel reported on November 8 that a police officer was wounded in a shootout that occurred during an attempt to take a group of rebel fighters into custody. The website quoted a Chechen Interior Ministry source as saying that the gunfight occurred as a group of republican Interior Ministry officers was carrying out a special operation to locate and apprehend four militants in a wooded area near the Urus-Martan district village of Yandi-Kotar. “During the course of a shootout with the bandits, one policeman was wounded by an explosion from a projectile from a grenade launcher fired by the militants,” the source said. “The militants managed to get away; a search is currently underway.”

On November 3, a vehicle in which a group of OMON special policemen from Oryol Oblast were traveling hit a mine in Grozny’s Zavodsky district, the Regnum news agency reported. The blast killed a captain and wounded four other OMON officers. Four Oryol policemen have been killed in Chechnya this year.