Dagestan: Bombings, Shootings and an Armed Raid on a Power Company

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 10

An improvised explosive device (IED) apparently targeted at a police car went off in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s capital, on March 11, RIA Novosti reported. The bomb, which was estimated to contain 1.2 grams of TNT equivalent and was packed with bolts and screws, was detonated as a police patrol car was passing by the city’s Marrakesh banquet hall. None of the policemen was hurt and the police car sustained only a few holes caused by shrapnel from the IED. That same day, another IED was discovered near an apartment building in Makhachkala and detonated in a controlled explosion using a bomb disposal robot. On February 7, two large explosive devices were discovered and defused in Dagestan’s Untsukulsky district. According to Kavkazky Uzel, the two devices together consisted of five grenades, four TNT blocks weighing a kilogram together, 400 kilograms of saltpeter and two plastic canisters (one with a 10-liter capacity and the other with a 20-liter capacity) filled with aluminum powder.

On March 8, an IED made out of a plastic bottle and packed with screws and nuts detonated in Makhachkala as a police car was passing by. None of the policemen in the car was injured, RIA Novosti reported.

On March 7, unidentified gunmen shot and seriously wounded a cleric from a mosque in the Dagestani town of Khasavyurt. Kavkazky Uzel identified the victim as Mukhammed Gebekov.

Three people were killed in a shootout that took place inside Makhachkala’s Marrakesh banquet hall on March 9, ANN News reported. Police found 17 9-mm shell casings at the scene of the crime.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on March 8 that police in Dagestan had helped an electricity grid operator, MRSK North Caucasus, regain control over sub-stations that had been seized by armed men after the firm cut power supplies over non-payments. MRSK North Caucasus said up to 300 men, many armed with rifles, had broken into five sub-stations in Dagestan over the preceding week, beating staff and switching the power back on for parts of Makhachkala.

According to Reuters, MRSK North Caucasus said that Makhachkala owed it 600 million rubles ($25.07 million) and blamed the local administration for stirring up trouble. “These criminal actions were provoked by the irresponsible position of the municipal authorities,” the company said in a statement. Makhachkala Mayor Said Amirov accused Russia’s electricity monopoly Unified Energy System (UES), which owns MRSK North Caucasus, of maneuvering to try to seize Makhachkala’s electricity distribution network. “Only barbarians and foreign invaders are capable of such actions,” Amirov said of the power cuts in a statement published on the city administration’s website.

Electricity shortages that began in Dagestan last year led to power cuts that in turn triggered protests, with protesters reportedly even clashing with police in late December (Chechnya Weekly, January 17).