Dagestan Violence Reaches New Heights

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 12 Issue: 13

A source in Russia’s interior ministry was quoted on June 24 as saying that the number of security personnel killed in a battle with an estimated 30 militants in a wooded area near the village of Kuznetskovka in Dagestan’s Kizlyar district had reached 13. The battle began on June 21, after which the security forces called in armored vehicles and attack helicopters. Yet, the rebels managed to break out of the encirclement on June 22, and the battle continued on June 23. A Dagestani law-enforcement source was quoted on June 24 as saying that the militants had probably managed to break out of the security forces’ encirclement and get away yet again, this time probably for good.

An interior ministry source told the BBC’s Russian service that 10 servicemen with two operational battalions of the interior ministry’s interior troops were killed and 15 wounded in the battle, while three Federal Security Service (FSB) personnel were also killed and another three were wounded. Officials were quoted as saying that five rebels were killed in the battle, but an official with the Dagestani branch of the Investigative Committee was quoted as saying that investigators had only seen the bodies of two dead militants (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, June 24).

Earlier in the battle, it was reported that 16 security personnel had been seriously wounded in the fighting. It is likely that some of them later died, accounting for the increase in the number killed in the battle from seven to 13. It was also reported that among the rebels involved in the fighting was Akhmed Idrisov, a Kizlyar district rebel leader known by the nom de guerre Abubakar, who had been behind numerous attacks in the district, including the killing of policemen (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, June 22).

In other violence in Dagestan, the investigator for especially important cases with the Dagestani branch of the Investigative Committee, Gadzhi Alibegov, was shot to death in Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, on June 21. That same day, a policeman was shot and wounded as he sat in his police car in the Dagestani city of Kaspiisk. On June 20, a suspected rebel was killed and a Russian interior ministry serviceman was wounded in a shootout with rebels in Dagestan’s Sergokalinsky district (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, June 21).

On June 19, the leader of the so-called Izberbashsky rebel group, Shamil Paizulaev, was killed in a shootout with police in Makhachkala. A Dagestani interior ministry official was later quoted as saying that two passersby – a 16-year-old boy and an eight-year-old boy – were wounded in the crossfire during the shootout that killed Paizulaev, who was allegedly behind the failed suicide bombing attempt by a female bomber in Moscow on December 31, 2010 (www.newsru.com, June 20).

On June 18, security forces destroyed a bomb factory where improvised explosive devices had been made in the village of Shaumyan in Dagestan’s Kizlyar district. According to the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, the bomb factory was discovered after the “explosives expert” for the so-called “Kizlyar sabotage and terrorist group” was detained in Shaumyan on June 17. The suspect had reportedly made improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were used in the bombing of railway lines (www.newsru.com, Interfax, June 18).

On June 17, a policeman was shot by unidentified attackers in the village of Bairamaul in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district. The victim, identified as Senior Sergeant Rustam Arsamurzaev, later died of his wounds (www.dagpravda.ru, June 21).

Elsewhere in the North Caucasus, police in Kabardino-Balkaria involved in a republic-wide anti-terrorist sweep on June 23 discovered ammunition and weapons in a Mercedes Benz 230 they stopped at a checkpoint in city of Baksan. Police also detained a resident of the city of Chegem, who was found with an IED made out of hand grenades. On June 22, the deputy head of the operational-search unit of the Kabardino-Balkaria interior ministry’s criminal investigation department, Albert Sizhazhev, was murdered in Baksan. On June 20, a local Baksan resident was detained in the city’s train station after police stopped him and found him in possession of a hand grenade (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, June 23).

Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office in the North Caucasian Federal District, Artyom Melnikov, told reporters in Pyatigorsk, Stavropol Krai, on June 23 that the situation in Kabardino-Balkaria has stabilized somewhat. Melnikov acknowledged that “problems remain” and work remains to be done, pointing to the murder of Albert Sizhachev the previous day. “Nevertheless, the situation in Kabardino-Balkaria is stabilizing slowly but surely,” he said, adding “We will keep on working until the logical end.” According to Melnikov, more than 320 operations, including counter-terrorism operations, were conducted in Kabardino-Balkaria last year and in the first quarter of this year, during which more than 500 militants – including 32 rebel leaders – were “neutralized” and more than 440 rebels and rebel accomplices were detained. He said the republic’s courts heard almost 300 criminal cases and more than 358 defendants were convicted, with 45 criminal cases closed down after the defendants were killed in clashes with police (Interfax, June 23).