CHECHEN REBELS RAID ACHKOI-MARTAN.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 184
Chechen rebels raided the town of Achkoi-Martan late yesterday (October 7). The attacking force–consisting, according to one report, of several hundred rebel fighters, according to another, several dozen–reportedly entered Achkoi-Martan in cars around midnight and began firing automatic weapons and grenade launchers at the local police headquarters, prosecutor’s office, various other administrative buildings and security check-points. One policeman was killed and two wounded in the ensuing battle, which lasted several hours and forced local residents to hide in their basements. The rebels withdrew from the town near dawn. There was also fighting over the weekend in Gudermes, Chechnya’s second-largest city and former administrative center, which was the target of a large-scale rebel attack last month. This time, rebels fired on an Interior Ministry security post located on the outskirts of Gudermes, wounding four servicemen. The federal forces returned fire. Several police units in the town of Argun also came under fire, but there were no reports of injuries from the attack (Polit.ru, October 8, Lenta.ru, October 7-8; see also the Monitor, September 17). The weekend’s rebel attacks were just the latest in an ongoing series. The end of last week saw battles in Chechnya’s Kurchaloi, Shelkov and Shali districts. According to the Russian military command, the federal forces involved in these battles destroyed three Chechen rebel units, each made up of several dozen fighters. Meanwhile, a mine exploded in Djohar (Grozny), the Chechen capital, killing one policeman and wounding three others, while another exploded on a road in the Vedeno district, killing one local resident and wounding another. Two people were killed in a shoot-out with police in the village of Gekhi, in the Urus-Martan district. Unknown assailants shot an official of the administration in the village of Mairtup, located in the Kurchaloi district, and in the town of Urus-Martan, two local residents who had been cooperating with the Russian authorities were murdered (Radio Liberty, October 4).
The Urus-Martan murders may have been part of the rebels’ ongoing campaign to terrorize or eliminate those they accuse of collaborating with the federal forces. According to Kavkaz.org, the pro-rebel website operating out of the Gulf emirate of Qatar, at least twenty-five “national-traitors” accused of having actively supported the Russian “occupiers” were arrested last week and subsequently shot on the orders of the rebels’ Sharia court. Each of those arrested were read the verdict of the Sharia court before being executed. The website also quoted field commander Shamil Basaev as saying that the latest rebel offensive was in response to President Vladimir Putin’s September 24 ultimatum to the rebels that they appear before federal officials to begin the process of disarmament. Basaev said that the rebels were also aiming to “disorganize” the federal forces, to punish “national traitors” and to take control of districts in Chechnya’s southern mountainous region (Kavkaz.org, October 4).
Meanwhile, several hundred residents of the Chechen village of Prigorodnoe, just outside the capital, blocked the Grozny-Shatoi highway yesterday to protest what they claimed was the murder of a ten-year-old boy by Russian troops. The boy, Muslim Bisultanov, died from shrapnel wounds after an incident in which a grenade, apparently fired from a grenade launcher, exploded in a courtyard where he and other children were playing. The protesters, who blocked the highway with vehicles and concrete blocks, claimed the grenade was fired by federal troops and demanded that the authorities investigate the incident (Lenta.ru, October 7).
BUCHAREST AND CHISINAU CANNOT AFFORD A QUARREL.