A police colonel was assassinated today (March 2) in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala. The victim, identified as 51-year-old Magomed Musaev, the deputy head of the criminal investigation department in Makhachkala’s Sovietsky district, was shot by unidentified attackers as he drove to work. According to initial reports, his wife was with him in the car at the time of the attack and was also killed. According to subsequent reports, the second person killed in the attack was a female passerby. The Dagestani Interior Ministry reported that the attack on Musaev was not the first attempt on his life (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 2).
Two alleged rebels were killed late yesterday (March 1) during a special operation in the village of Mutsalaul in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district. The two were among a group of up to four suspected rebels blockaded by security forces in a private home in the village, and were reportedly shot when they put up armed resistance (www.newsru.com, March 2).
The latest fighting in Dagestan comes on the heels of a special operation conducted February 13-17 that targeted rebels in a mountainous area along the administrative border between Dagestan’s Kazbeksky district and Chechnya’s Nozhai-Yurt district, during which 17 Chechen policemen were killed and 24 wounded. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov declared on February 17 that security forces had completely wiped out a rebel unit headed by Magarabi Timeraliev, killing seven militants (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 1).
On February 27, the bodies of five hunters were found in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district. The five men, all of them residents of the village of Karabudakhkent, had been shot to death, and investigators found 29 spent 7.62 mm cartridges, 15 spent cartridges from a Makarov pistol and four spent 5.45 mm cartridges at the scene of the crime. The victims had apparently been tied together and shot to death execution style. Kommersant quoted law-enforcement sources as saying they were certain the hunters were killed by members of the Kadarsky jamaat, made up of residents of the villages of Karamakhi, Chabanmakhi and Dorgeli. The newspaper said the hunters may have been killed after accidently stumbling on a rebel dugout (www.kommersant.ru, February 28).
On March 1, a source in the press service of Dagestan’s Interior Ministry was quoted as saying that ballistics tests had established that the five hunters were killed by three automatic rifles used in a series of other crimes – the killing of the imam of the village of Kadar last September 15, the killing of the imam of the village of Karamakhi last July 9, the killing of a policeman in the village of Karamakhi last August 8, an attack on the Karamakhi village police headquarters last May 15 and the killing of the head of the Dagestani Interior Ministry’s anti-extremism center for the city of Izberbash and his deputy on September 28, 2010 (www.interfax.ru, March 1).
Last October, gunmen shot and killed a 62-year-old resident of the village of Ishkarty in Dagestan’s Buinaksk district, apparently after he stumbled on a rebel encampment while hunting. In December 2010, seven hunters from Stavropol Krai were shot to death in Kabardino-Balkaria, apparently after they inadvertently came upon a rebel dugout. The perpetrators of those killings were reportedly killed in a special operation in April 2011 (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 1).
On February 27, a police major was shot and killed in Makhachkala. The attack took place around 8:20 pm, local time, when unidentified gunmen shot the officer using automatic weapons. The victim died on the spot (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 27).
On February 26, police found and defused an improvised explosive device on a road 200 meters from the village of Novyi Sulak in Dagestan’s Kizilyurt district. The device, which consisted of a 65-liter canister filled with aluminum powder, ammonium nitrate, fragments of metal and ball bearings, and was radio controlled, was destroyed in a controlled explosion. The IED had an explosive force equivalent to 50-55 kilograms of TNT, and the controlled explosion left a 3.8-meter by 1.5-meter crater (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 27).
Also on February 26, two suspected IEDs were discovered in Makhachkala. One was found near the entrance to a restaurant in the Dagestani capital, while the other was discovered on a sidewalk near an apartment building. The device found near the apartment building turned out to be a fake, but the IED found near the restaurant was real and was destroyed by Federal Security Service (FSB) bomb disposal experts using a robot (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 27).
In Ingushetia on February 27, security forces used artillery to shell a wooded area on the outskirts of the village of Ali-Yurt in the republic’s Nazran district, where a group of militants were thought to be hiding. There were no reports of any militants being killed or captured during the operation (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 28).
In Chechnya, a traffic police officer was killed on February 23 in the village of Voikova in the Oktyabrsky district of Grozny, the republic’s capital. A local resident was quoted as saying the policeman had come into conflict with “employees of various power structures” because he was “principled” and stopped anyone who violated traffic rules, regardless of their affiliations (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 24).