Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 34

Unknown attackers fired on a police checkpoint on the southwestern outskirts of the Dagestani city of Buinaksk in the early hours of the September 13, killing one officer, Lt. Niyaz Gasanov, and wounding another. In the incident, which took place near a tuberculosis hospital, the gunmen fired from a nearby forest simultaneously from three points. Another attack on police took place in the village of Geli, in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district, on the evening of September 11, when unknown gunmen traveling in a Niva automobile opened fire on a police post. The police fired back, killing one of the attackers, and the car turned over. When police tried to capture the second attacker, he blew himself up with a grenade. A Dagestani Interior Ministry told Kavkazky Uzel that the Niva used in the attack had been identified as having been used in attacks in which policemen were killed. A source in the Karabudakhkentsky district police department told the website that a second car was involved in the attack and that those driving in it managed to escape.

Kavkazky Uzel cited other sources as saying that the attackers in this incident had been involved in the September 6 shooting murder of three members of the Kayakentsky district police department on the Kavkaz federal highway (see Chechnya Weekly, September 7). In a statement that Kavkazcenter website posted on September 10, the Sharia Jamaat claimed responsibility for that attack and others, including the bomb blast in Makhachkala on September 2 that killed two servicemen from the 102nd brigade of Interior Ministry troops. Referring to reports that the bombing also killed three civilians, the Islamist group said that if those reports were true, they were “accidental victims” because its “mujahideen” had not seen civilians moving near “the occupation forces.” The Sharia Jamaat statement continued: “Responsibility for the deaths of these people lies fully with Rusnya [a derogatory term for Russia-CW] and their Dagestani accomplices and lackeys who have been occupying the Islamic lands of Dagestan and the Caucasus and have unleashed a war against the religion of God and the Muslims here. We have warned the peaceful population of Dagestan on more than one occasion not to go near the occupation forces and the members of the so-called ‘Interior Ministry, FSB and Prosecutor’s Office,’ places where they gather, their deployment and patrol areas, transport and premises. Be vigilant, because they always try to stay close to the peaceful population and to use them as a shield.” The Sharia Jamaat referred to itself as “the legitimate authority of Dagestan.”

On September 12, Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov held a press conference to report on the republic’s successes in fighting terrorism. He said that during the previous two-and-a-half months, 50 members of an “illegal armed formation” had been captured and 37 killed and that the “main leaders” of the “criminal groups” had been destroyed. According to Magomedtagirov, two suspected rebels, Kazim Radzhabov and Temirbulat Zubairov, were captured on September 9 in Makhachkala along with a homemade bomb, bomb components, and several grenades. The two suspects, he said, had been involved in various terrorist attacks, including the September 2 bombing in Makhachkala. “Up to four clandestine bandit groups are currently acting in the republic,” Magomedtagirov told reporters. “They call themselves the Sharia group. According to information available to us, the total number of the bandits is up to 30 people. They are operating mainly in the cities Makhachkala, Khasavyurt and Buinaksk.”

Dagestani State Council Chairman Magomedali Magomedov, for his part, painted a somewhat less rosy picture of the fight against the rebels, telling a meeting of Dagestan’s Security Council on September 8 that “in many directions, the results of the fight against crime, and especially terrorism, have deteriorated.” He claimed that terrorists have increased their activity because they are getting help from abroad. “Many connect the worsening crime situation and the rise of terrorist activity in Dagestan with the upcoming presidential elections, but, as reports of law enforcement structures’ heads indicate, the rise in terrorist activity is related to the fact that they are being supported by certain forces based outside the republic and the country,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, Interfax reported on September 12 that a serviceman had been killed on September 11 when a shootout took place between members of the Interior Ministry’s 102nd brigade and Chechen policemen on the Kharami Pass that links Dagestan’s Botlikhsky district and Chechnya’s Vedeno district. “Under the conditions of poor visibility they apparently didn’t make out who is who and got into a firefight,” a source told the news agency. A Chechen policeman was wounded in the shootout.