Chechen Rebels Step Up Attacks

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 18

A battle between rebels and security forces took place in Chechnya’s Urus-Martan district on May 6. Kavkazky Uzel on May 7 quoted a Chechen Interior Ministry source as saying of the incident: “Yesterday at around 1400 in a forest tract at the village of Komsomolskoe in Urus-Martan district servicemen from a Defense Ministry unit who were carrying out intelligence-reconnaissance activities discovered a gang-formation unit numbering up to 15 people that was concealed at a temporary base. After a short shootout, the bandits retreated and left, presumably in the direction of the mountains (the village of Komsomolskoe is located in the foothills). There were no causalities or wounded among the servicemen. An operation to find and neutralize that gang group is continuing at the moment.” According to Kavkazky Uzel, Chechen rebel websites claimed that the battle lasted more than one and a half hours but did not report on whether any rebel fighters were killed or wounded.

The shootout in Urus-Martan closely followed one of the deadliest presumed rebel attacks against security forces in Chechnya in recent months. Five policemen were killed and two wounded by a bomb detonated by unknown attackers in Grozny late on May 4. Russia’s Channel One state television and Interfax, citing sources in the Combined Group of Forces in the North Caucasus, reported that the incident took place around 11 p.m., Moscow Standard Time, on May 4, on a roadside in the village of Tashkola in Grozny’s Staropromyslovsky district, as a police unit comprised of ten people was passing by. According to the sources, the bomb was stuffed with metal elements that acted as shrapnel. “Five policemen died from the explosion at the scene, another two received shrapnel wounds,” a military source said, adding that the remaining policemen received minor contusions. These same sources said that the number of police patrols had been increased in Grozny in connection with possible terrorists acts and that one of these additional police patrols was the target of the bombing.

Kavkazky Uzel on May 5 quoted a Chechen policeman who provided further details of the incident. “A reinforced police detachment consisting of staff of the Akhmat Kadyrov regiment of spetsnaz from the republic’s Interior Ministry and members of the local police (ROVD), numbering 10 people, was on duty at a mobile post that had been set up at the intersection of 8th Line Street and Borodino Street in the village of Tashkala in Grozny’s Staropromyslovsky district,” the unnamed policeman said. “Around 23:10 at night a powerful explosive device planted on the side of the road went off. As a result of the explosion, five policemen were killed at the scene of the incident, including three members of the Interior Ministry spetsnaz regiment. Another two people—an officer and a policeman—received serious wounds. The remaining [servicemen] escaped with light contusions and injuries.”

On May 4, a commander of a police patrol-sentry service (PPSM) regiment was shot by unidentified gunmen at the gate of his home in Vedeno district and died later in the hospital. Kavkazky Uzel on May 5 quoted an Interior Ministry officer who gave details of the incident. “Unknown criminals in the Vedeno district village of Dyshne-Vedeno shot up an automobile on Ushaev Street in which PPSM unit staffer Khavazhi Bekbulatov was located,” the source said. “After he returned fire, the attackers escaped. Bekbulatov died later in the hospital, where he had been taken by relatives. The fact that the bandits laid an ambush in immediate proximity to the policeman’s home shows that it was a premeditated and carefully planned action by participants in NVFs [illegal armed formations]. Despite the measures that have been taken, it has not been possible so far to get on the trail of these bandits, unfortunately.”

Kavkazky Uzel reported that on the evening of May 4, another policeman was killed when unidentified attackers fired on a UAZ automobile on the Grozny-Argun road in the suburbs of the Chechen capital. On May 2, a shootout between security forces and around 30 members of “illegal armed formations” took place in a forest tract at the village of Roshin-Chu in southern Chechnya, Chechen Interior Ministry sources told Kavkazky Uzel. A contract serviceman with the military commandant’s office of the Internal Troops and Isa Akhmedov, a member of an Urus-Martan police department PPSM battalion, were killed in the exchange, while another policeman was wounded.