Dagestan Remains the Hot Spot of Insurgent Activity in the North Caucasus

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 13 Issue: 9

A police checkpoint in the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt came under fire early today (April 20). One policeman was slightly wounded in the attack. Police fired back at the gunman but he managed to escape in a car (riandagestan.ru, April 20).

Yesterday (April 19), three suspected militants were killed in Khasavyurt. The incident occurred around 11:30 p.m., local time, when police stopped a car, and those inside allegedly opened fire and were killed in the ensuing shootout. Police said they found two Kalashnikov automatic rifles and four grenades in the car. The National Anti-Terrorist Center identified the slain alleged militants as Ramazan Saritov, the head of a rebel group operating in Dagestan; Zelimkhan Kutsaev, a member of a rebel group; and Arsen Kakaev, “an active accomplice of the bandits.” According to the center, all three men, who were in their 20s, were natives of the Khasavyurt district village of Bammatyurt and had committed a number of terrorist-related crimes, including extorting local businessmen, shooting up and bombing shops and automobiles, and attacking police personnel (newsru.com, April 19).

Also yesterday (April 19), the Kavkazsky Uzel website reported it had received a text message that two vehicles, a Russian-made car and a Jeep, had come under fire near the district police headquarters in Khasavyurt. The website quoted the text messages as saying that a high-level police official was likely traveling in a two-vehicle convoy that was the target of heavy gunfire from two directions and that people inside the vehicles had been killed. (kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 19). There was no official confirmation of – or other media reports about – the alleged attack.

On April 18, a policeman was shot and wounded in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala. The incident took place around 5:00 p.m., local time, on Prospect Akushinsky. The RIA Dagestan news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying that the officer, who was shot in the head, was hit when a group of policemen came under fire from a sniper (riadagestan.ru, April 18).

Also on April 18, one policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a shootout between law-enforcement personnel and rebels in the mountains of Dagestan’s Tsumadinsky district. The incident occurred in a wooded area on the outskirts of the village of Kvanada when local police patrol ran into a group of militants. The slain policeman was a sergeant (kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 18). Police reported yesterday (April 19) that the bodies of two alleged militants were found near Kvanada and that they were probably also victims of the previous day’s shootout. Police reported that they also found two rebel dugouts in the area (kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 19).

On April 17, a local resident of the town of Kizlyar suspected of being a militant was killed by police when he allegedly resisted arrest on a road near the village of Sulimkent in Dagestgan’s Khasavyurt district. The National Anti-Terrorist Center identified him as 32-year-old Shamil Gadzhiev (kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 17).

On April 16, a Dagestani policeman was wounded in the arm and his one-year-old daughter was wounded in the leg when a gunman fired on the car in which he was traveling with his family. The attack occurred as the car was pulling up to the family’s home in Khasavyurt (kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 17).

Also on April 16, security forces searching a wooded area near the settlement of Tukhchar in Dagestan’s Novolaksky district came across a group of rebels. One rebel was killed and three law enforcement personnel – two Interior Ministry Internal Troops servicemen and a local policeman – were wounded in the ensuing shootout (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 18).

In yet another incident in Dagestan on April 16, a lieutenant colonel with the republic’s branch of the Federal Security Service, Gasan Achilaev, and his wife were severely wounded when their car was blown up in Makhachkala. The incident took place on Prospect Akushinsky when an improvised explosive device detonated underneath the Ford Focus in which Achilaev and his wife Patimat were traveling, exploding with an estimated force of one kilogram of TNT. Earlier on April 16, an explosive device detonated near the entrance of an apartment building on Prospect Akushinsky. Police found the burnt body of an unidentified man and a pistol at the site of the blast. On the evening of April 15, an apparent IED detonated near the entrance of a clothing store in Makhachkala, wounding a woman who was walking by (newsru.com, April 16).

Yesterday (April 19), a suspect blew himself up in the city of Chegem in Kabardino-Balkaria when personnel from the republic’s branches of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Tsentr “E” – the Interior Ministry’s anti-extremism center – attempted to detain him and another man, who escaped. None of the law-enforcement personnel was hurt in the blast.  On April 18, a policeman was shot and wounded by an assailant in Kabardino-Balkaria’s capital Nalchik. The officer, a police major, shot back and wounded the attacker, who later died in the hospital. Police said the attacker was a Nalchik resident and that three grenades were found in the basement of his home, which was searched following the incident (kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 19).

Also yesterday (April 19), three alleged militants were arrested in Cherkessk, the capital of Karachaevo-Cherkessia. Authorities accuse the three, identified as Shamil Balkarov, Igor Laptiv and Aslan Nartokov, of involvement in a bombing on the outskirts of Cherkessk last year (kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 19).