RIA Novosti reported on February 19 that three suspected militants were killed during a special operation carried out by police in the village of Sagopshi, in Ingushetia’s Malgobek district.
Newsru.com reported on February 18 that snipers had begun targeting policemen and servicemen in Ingushetia the previous day. According to the website, two policemen and one serviceman had been shot and wounded in various settlements around the republic over the previous 24 hours. A source in Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry told Interfax that a serviceman standing at a checkpoint at the entrance to the base of the Russian army’s 503rd Motorized Infantry Regiment in the village of Troitskaya was shot by a sniper and wounded, while a police lieutenant was shot and wounded by a sniper in the village of Nesterovsky. Earlier in the day, a policeman shot by a sniper in the village of Yandare was hospitalized and in grave condition.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, Svetlana Gorbakova, told The Associated Press (AP) on February 18 that another three policemen were wounded in Ingushetia that day when their vehicle hit a land mine. RIA Novosti reported that the car in which the three officers were riding was blown up in the village of Troitskaya, and that one of the policemen was in serious condition.
RIA Novosti reported on February 17 that two unidentified gunmen had shot to death the brother of a police officer at a private house in the Ingush village of Ekazhevo. Also on February 17, Interfax quoted a law-enforcement source as saying that the police had defused an explosive device found at the bottom of an irrigation ditch near houses on the outskirts of Sagopshi. The source said the device consisted of a 12-liter bucket filled with ammonium nitrate, aluminum powder and scrap metal, with an electric fuse attached.
Itar-Tass reported on February 15 that an OMON police commando had averted a terrorist attack on the home of a police department driver in Nazran by calling in demolition experts after seeing a man plant what turned out to be an improvised explosive device near the home. The device was safely defused.
These latest attacks in Ingushetia follow the large-scale security operation in Nazran on February 12, during which, according to the Federal Security Service (FSB), security forces killed several militants who had been planning terrorist attacks against government officials in Ingushetia. Agence France-Presse (AFP) on February 14 quoted the FSB as saying in a statement that the militants had been planning “large scale terrorist attacks against the newly-appointed leadership of the republic.” The journalist Yulia Latynina went further, speculating in a piece she wrote for the Internet publication Yezhednevny Zhurnal (Ej.ru) published on February 16 that the suicide bombers were preparing to assassinate Ingushetia’s president, Yunus-bek Yevkurov, in a manner similar to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed by a massive car bomb in Beirut in February 2005.
RIA Novosti reported that four police officers were killed and three wounded in the February 12 operation, during which three militants, including a woman, were also killed. Interfax reported on February 13 that 24 people, including 21 law-enforcement officers and three local residents, were wounded in the shootout. However, the independent Ingushetia.org website reported that 15-20 policemen were killed in the battle (see Mairbek Vatchagaev’s article in this issue).
Ingushetia’s chief prosecutor, Yury Turygin, told a press conference on February 16 that 61 rebels were killed and a large quantity of illegal weapons and ammunition were seized in the republic last year. According to Itar-Tass, Turygin said that in 2008, 39 law-enforcement officers were killed and 88 wounded, 28 servicemen were killed and 61 wounded, and five civilians were killed and 26 wounded.
Meanwhile, President Yevkurov, during a February 14 meeting with representatives of Ingushetia villages and local religious leaders, called for an end to the blood feuds that claim the lives of dozens of people in Ingushetia every year, the Regnum News Agency reported. Regnum quoted the office of Ingushetia’s mufti as saying that 180 families in the republic are currently involved in blood feuds.