August ended with fresh casualties among both civilians and law enforcement personnel in Ingushetia. According to independent estimates, there were 44 casualties in Ingushetia in August—19 killed and 25 injured. Of the 19 people killed, nine were law enforcement officers, seven were rebels and three were civilians. Seventeen servicemen and eight civilians were injured (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/212199/). Victims of the conflict in Ingushetia comprised nearly a fifth of all the casualties in the North Caucasus during the month of August. Moreover, according to the human resources officer of the Ingush Interior Ministry’s administrative border guards regiment, Marifa Lyanova, the series of recent attacks marked the sharpest increase in losses among the republican police since Ingushetia was established as a separate republic in 1992 (http://ingushetiyaru.org/news/24325/).
It appears that September will also not be quiet for Ingushetia either, given that the month already got off to a rocky start. On September 5, a roadside bomb exploded in front of a police convoy less than a kilometer from the village of Dattykh in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district. The vehicle at the head of the convoy was destroyed, blocking the way of the vehicles behind it, which then came under fierce fire by gunmen. According to police estimates, there were up to 10 assailants involved in the attack (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/212190/). Five police officers died on the spot during the attack, while another died after being taken to a local hospital (www.rg.ru/2012/09/05/reg-skfo/dattyh.html). The Russian Investigative Committee supplied a different figure in an effort to downplay the militant attack, stating that only four police officers died (www.regnum.ru/news/kavkaz/ingush/1568282.html). The trap for the Ingush police officers turned out to be quite deadly despite the fact that their vehicles were armored. Militant websites claim that between seven to nine people were wounded in the attack (http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2012/09/05/92892.shtml).
Whatever the case, it should be noted that the attack took place in broad daylight on a road that could hardly be called deserted. Another strange fact about the attack was that it took police reinforcements two and a half hours to get to the site of the attack, even though the distance between the district police headquarters and that site is only 40 kilometers and the republican police headquarters are a little more than 80 kilometers away.
Such attacks are becoming common in Ingushetia. Another attack took place near Dattykh on August 2, when two policemen were killed and three wounded (http://ingushetiyaru.org/news/22575/). It is noteworthy that both attacks near Dattykh were carried out around noon. Thus the militants in this part of Ingushetia appear to feel quite safe and confident, which explains the frequency and timing of their attacks on police there. This area along the border with Chechnya is hilly and forested, allowing both Chechen and Ingush militant groups to set up temporary bases and hideouts. The attacks in Ingushetia apparently prompted Moscow to redeploy some of its Interior Ministry troops from Chechnya to Ingushetia—in particular, to areas near Dattykh (http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2012/09/09/92971.shtml).
On September 6, the day after the shootout near Dattykh, the militants made a failed attempt to blow up the commander of Russian Interior Ministry unit #3718 in Nazran (http://lenta.ru/news/2012/09/06/car/). Investigators found 200 grams of TNT and a Nokia cell phone at the site of the thwarted bombing attack.
At around 2 p.m. the next day, September 7, unidentified assailants detonated an improvised explosives device (IED) under the car of Girikhar Nalgiev, a deputy department head with the Sunzha district police, who later died of his wounds in a local hospital. The IED was placed under the driver’s seat of his Nissan (http://ingushetiyaru.org/news/24327/). This was not the first attempt on Nalgiev’s life. He was injured by a bomb blast on March 1, 2010, but he recovered and returned to his job (http://hunafa.com/?p=10719).
Meanwhile, the head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, could find no better a response to the spike of violence than to create new bureaucratic bodies. For example, the republican anti-terrorist commission set up an inter-agency working group on countering the ideology of terrorism and extremism (www.regnum.ru/news/kavkaz/ingush/1566370.html#ixzz25yoPXcZ0). The newly created body is expected to work with the relatives of people whose children may be among the insurgents. Speaking about the Ingush Interior Ministry’s shortcomings, Yevkurov said he was convinced that order could be imposed in the republic if the schedules of police activities were “streamlined” (www.checheninfo.ru/14185-glava-ingushetii-nedovolen-rabotoy-policii.html).
In response to the recent series of rebel attacks, regional authorities are resorting to terrorizing the local population, which is leading to an even greater number of casualties in the republic. As a rule, young people who are simply suspected of sympathizing with the insurgents are killed during so-called special operations. Special operations like the one carried out on August 28 in the village of Sagopshi in Ingushetia’s Malgobek district (www.kp.ru/online/news/1232638/) can hardly evoke any response from the local population other than anger. As often happens in the North Caucasus, the authorities kill unarmed and innocent people (www.ekhokavkaza.com/content/article/24695558.html).
The situation in Ingushetia looks increasingly like it is about to plunge into chaos. Yevkurov does not properly assess the state of affairs in the republic, where torture, executions and kidnappings have become routine. The fact that Moscow does not react to the lamentable situation in Ingushetia means either that Yevkurov will soon be replaced or that Moscow is so busy with Dagestan and has no energy left to deal with other regions of the North Caucasus like Ingushetia. Indeed, the more that Moscow gets bogged down with the insurgency in Dagestan, the more breathing room it will give the fighters to intensify their operations in Ingushetia. Either of these scenarios means that the situation in the North Caucasus in general and in Ingushetia in particular will continue to deteriorate in the coming months.