Ekho Moskvy reported on January 11 that a “large-scale special operation” was underway in several districts of Ingushetia. According to the radio station, the operation involved “practically all of the republic’s security services.” It followed an attack by unknown assailants on the quarters of a border guard attachment in Nazran on January 12. The attackers fired a hand-held antitank grenade launcher at the barracks, wounding four border guards.
On January 8, 150 men from Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB) laid siege to a Nazran apartment building where militants who had reportedly participated in last June’s attacks on law-enforcement buildings in Ingushetia were holed up. The security forces killed five gunmen, and Kavkazky Uzel reported on January 10 that the shootout left the apartment building almost completely destroyed. Police sources in Ingushetia told the Associated Press on January 11 that the dead militants included two Ingush residents, one Chechen and someone from an unnamed Middle East country. Itar-Tass reported on January 11 that two of the five gunmen had been identified as Uruskhan Lolokhoev and Amirkhan Gorchkhanov, who were members of the group led by the warlord Shamil Basaev.
In a separate incident, Ekho Moskvy reported on January 11 that a colonel in the Ingushetian branch of the FSB had been killed by an explosion while leading a reconnaissance mission in a wooded area of the republic’s Nazranovsky district.
Meanwhile, Kavakzky Uzel reported on January 12 that a group of seven armed men in masks and camouflage had raided the offices of the Information Center of the Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, a Nazran-based group that monitors the human rights situation in Chechnya. According to the website, the office’s male staff were forced to lie face down on the floor and the female staff were put up against the wall while phones were disconnected and cell phones seized. Later a man in civilian clothing, who identified himself as an officer of Ingushetia’s FSB, arrived at the scene and said the office had been raided because it was believed that a “group of bandits” was staying there. The officer, identified as Kiril Shvedov, asked that the information center’s head, Taisa Isaeva, come to the FSB headquarters in Magas, Ingushetia’s capital, on January 13. The intruders left after photographing the information center’s staff.