Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Aleksandr Bortnikov yesterday (December 8) told a session of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee, which he chairs, that security forces have detained nearly 800 militants and their accomplices in the North Caucasus since the start of the year, but that the threat of terrorist acts in Russia remains. He said that 80 terrorist attacks have been averted in the North Caucasus so far this year, and 782 rebels and their accomplices were captured and more than 1,600 firearms, 490 homemade bombs and five and half tons of explosives have been seized (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 8).
Bortnikov also said that Russia’s railways have not been adequately protected. The November 27 crash of the Nevsky Express between St. Petersburg and Moscow, which was reportedly the result of a bombing, killed 27 people. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called the bombing of a train in Dagestan on November 30 an incident “similar” to the Nevesky Express crash, despite the fact that no one was hurt in the Dagestan incident (EDM, December 1).
In a statement posted on the Kavkaz-Center website on December 2, the command of the “Caucasus mujahideen” claimed they had bombed the Nevsky Express. The statement said the operation was prepared and carried out on the basis of a planned series of “sabotage acts” targeting “strategically important” assets around Russia undertaken on the orders of Dokka Umarov – “the emir of the Caucasus Emirate” (www.kavkazcenter.com, December 2). It should be noted that the rebels of the Caucasus Emirate also claimed responsibility for the disaster at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric dam in Siberia last August, saying they used an anti-tank grenade to sabotage the facility. However, most observers dismiss the claim, noting the disaster at the dam was simply an industrial accident.
Putin weighed in on the situation in the North Caucasus during his annual nationally televised call-in session on December 3. He said he saw no indications that the problematic security situation in Ingushetia and Dagestan could trigger a new war in the North Caucasus, but added that the situation there is “difficult” because “illegal armed formations and extremist groups” still function in the region. He added: “We shall fight against them mercilessly until they are fully destroyed.” Putin also stressed the need to solve social problems in the North Caucasus, including unemployment and corruption, which he said is connected to the region’s clan system (ITAR-TASS, December 3).
Meanwhile, there have been fresh reports of violent incidents in the North Caucasus this week connected to apparent insurgent activity. Two alleged members of “illegal armed formations,” a man and a woman, were reportedly killed today during a special operation in the village of Shamkhal-Termen in Dagestan. The FSB in Dagestan identified them as Andrei Buga, who they said was the head of a “terrorist group” in the Dagestani capital Makhachkala, and his wife, Mariam Magomedgireyeva. The FSB claimed the two were killed in a shootout with security forces and that both were armed (www.newsru.com, December 9).
A policeman was killed and another wounded in a shootout with militants in Dagestan’s Sergokalinksky district on December 5 (Interfax, December 5). On December 4, a bomb blast in a café in the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt wounded four members of an OMON special tasks police unit from Samara, one of whom subsequently died of his injuries. On December 3, an unidentified gunman wearing a mask shot and wounded four policemen in another café, this one on the outskirts of Khasavyurt. A local resident who was in the café at the time of the December 3 attack was shot and killed (www.newsru.com, December 4). Earlier on December 3, unidentified attackers in a car fired on a police post in Dagestan’s Levashinsk district, killing two policemen. Police later reported they had detained a suspect in the shooting –a resident of Dagestan’s Shamisky district identified as Abdulla Gasanov (www.newsru.com, December 3).
According to Dagestan’s interior ministry, there have been around 200 attempts on the lives of police officers in the republic since the start of the year, with more than 50 policemen killed and around 120 wounded during that period. The ministry also reported that more than 120 members of “illegal armed formations” have been killed and more than 100 captured in the republic over the same period (www.newsru.com, December 4).
Similar attacks have been reported in Ingushetia this week. Unidentified attackers shot and wounded Girikhan Yevloev, a former head of the State Inspectorate for Road Safety (GIBBD) for Ingushetia’s Nazran district, in Nazran yesterday (December 8). On December 6, gunmen opened fire on a car in which two officers of the republic’s branch of the Federal Service for Narcotics Control (FSKN) were driving in the village of Plievo, in Ingushetia’s Nazran district. The two officers were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. On December 4, Akhmet Bokov, the deputy head of the rescue service of the Emergency Situations Ministry’s branch in Ingushetia’s Malgobek district, was shot in the town of Malgobek. He died on the way to the hospital. On December 3, a police captain was shot in the town of Karabulak by an attacker wearing a mask. He was able to return fire, but the attacker managed to escape. There was no word on the condition of the police captain. On December 2, three people were wounded in an attack on interior ministry internal troops in the village of Gazi-Yurt in Ingushetia’s Nazran district (www.kavkaz-uzel, December 8).
Two servicemen in the Russian internal troops were wounded in a shootout with militants in Chechnya’s Gudermes district on December 5 (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 6).