In what appeared to be a bold escalation in tactics and targeting by Chechnya’s separatist guerrillas, the headquarters of Ingushetia’s interior ministry in the republic’s capital of Nazran was seized on the evening of June 21 by gunmen shouting an Islamic slogan popular among those guerrillas. Such a direct infantry assault on such a key central headquarters of the pro-Moscow authorities, as distinct from a suicide truck-bombing or the clandestine planting of a mine, had not taken place for a long time either in Ingushetia or in Chechnya.
The attackers, armed with rocket launchers and grenade launchers, mortally wounded the Ingush administration’s acting Interior Minister, Abukar Koshtoyev. Similar, simultaneous attacks seized local police buildings in the Ingush towns of Ordzhonikidzevskaya and Karabulak. Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency reported that two other government buildings in Nazran were on fire late Monday evening.
The battle cry “Allahu Akhbar!” (“Allah is great!”) was reportedly heard from some of the gunmen, an Interior Ministry official told the Associated Press.