The press office of the Federal Security Service (FSB) branch in Ingushetia told Itar-Tass on April 21 that an anti-terrorist operation in and around the village of Verkhny Alkun in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district had been completed. According to the office, a base under construction by gunmen and a ward for “keeping hostages” were discovered in a forest during the operation, which had been launched on April 20 due to the information that several gunmen were staying in Verkhny Alkun. Yet, no gunmen were found during the operation.
Also on April 21, a member of an “illegal armed gang” who had targeted law enforcement officers in Ingushetia was shot dead in the republic’s Nazran district, RIA Novosti reported. “Law enforcers had information that militants involved in attacks … traveled in a black Lada Priora car without a license plate,” a local Federal Security Service spokesman told the news agency. The FSB spokesman said that after the car was spotted, officers ordered the driver to stop, but he opened fire and was killed in the ensuing shootout.
Reporting on the same incident, Itar-Tass reported on April 21 that a column of vehicles belonging to the Ingush branch of the FSB was fired on from another vehicle that day on the Surkhasi-Ekazhevo road, after which the attacking vehicle was blocked and an “illegal armed formation” member inside the car was killed. According to the news agency, the slain alleged militant turned out to be Adam Aushev, a 22-year-old Surkhasi resident and younger brother of Magomed Aushev, who was killed during a security sweep in the village of Barsuki in Ingushetia’s Nazran district in December 2008.
Yet, the independent Ingushetia.org website quoted relatives of Adam Aushev as saying that while driving out of Surkhasi he had been stopped by police, who asked him to buy cigarettes for them and bring them upon his return to the village, but that when he returned ten minutes later, his car was blocked by an armored personnel carrier that opened fire at point blank range, killing him. According to Ingushetia.org, law enforcement personnel then planted an automatic weapon in his car. In a report to Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, security forces claimed that Aushev had ignored a demand to stop his car and had shot at them. They also claimed that he had been involved in the reported attack on the FSB column on the Surkhasi-Ekazhevo road earlier in the day.
On April 19, an Islamic cleric was killed when unknown assailants opened fire on his house in Nazran, RIA Novosti reported. The news agency quoted a police source as saying that gunmen attacked the home of the 38-year-old cleric, Musa Ezmurziev, in the center of Nazran, using grenade launchers and automatic rifles, and that Ezmurziev died on the spot from gunshot wounds. The attackers escaped.
Also on April 19, unknown gunmen opened fire on the house of the chief of the criminal police in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district, killing his sister and injuring his brother, RIA Novosti quoted a local police source as saying. In an item on the same incident, Itar-Tass reported on April 20 that the chief of the Sunzha district criminal police department, Alikhan Geroyev, had been wounded in a shootout. The news agency quoted the Investigative Committee as saying that unknown gunmen opened fire on Geroyev’s house on Lenin Street in the Ordzhonikidzevskaya settlement with a Shmel grenade launcher, lightly wounding Geroyev and also wounding his brother and sister. Police reported that Geroyev’s 32-year-old sister later died of her wounds.
Also in Nazran on April 19, a 77-year-old resident, Saipudin Magushkov, was hospitalized with gunshot wounds after he was shot by unidentified attackers firing automatic weapons. Interfax quoted a republican Interior Ministry source as saying that Magushkov had once worked as the head of security for Ingushetia’s central hospital but was now retired, and that he may have been targeted because he has relatives who work in law enforcement.
Itar-Tass reported on April 19 that a traffic police officer shot near the village of Ekazhevo village in Ingushetia’s Nazran district had died from his wounds in the hospital. The 24-year-old policeman, Adam Balkoev, was shot from a passing vehicle on April 18.
The BBC reported on April 17 that nearly 50 people died in Ingushetia in fighting with local militants between January and March, officials say. Citing police casualty figures, it reported that 27 rebels, 18 policemen and two civilians were killed in gun and bomb attacks that also wounded 44 people.
Euronews on April 16 quoted Oleg Orlov, head of the Memorial human rights group, as saying that the level of violence has gone down in Chechnya but that violence has spread to Dagestan and Ingushetia. “There has been a catastrophic growth of mutual violence between militants and law enforcement troops in recent years and it is the civilian population that suffers most,” Orlov said.
Meanwhile, Ingushetia’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, said on April 18 that ending the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya was the “right decision” and that it will have a positive effect on all of southern Russia, Interfax reported. The federal authorities have “made it clear to international terrorists that Russia has enough forces and funds to stop illegal terrorist activities, no matter where they are coming from,” Yevkurov said, adding that there are sufficient forces in the republic from the interior ministry’s internal troops, other interior ministry units and law enforcement agencies to facilitate “the implementation of tasks aimed at preventing terrorists actions.”
According to Interfax, Yevkurov said that the federal Interior Ministry group temporarily deployed in Ingushetia is giving “strong support” to the republic’s Interior Ministry. He also said that the republican authorities are actively working with the relatives of “those who have not yet come to their senses and are hiding in the forest with weapons and who have been convicted for serious terrorist crimes and are in prison.” He added that this work should have “a positive effect on those who have not laid down their arms” by helping them “come to their senses and draw the corresponding right conclusions, stop putting up resistance to the bodies of state power and return to peaceful life” (see Valery Dzutsev’s piece in this issue).