Insurgent violence has continued across the North Caucasus this week. Russian media reported that a gun battle broke out today when policemen at a road patrol checkpoint in the town of Prokhladny in Kabardino-Balkaria stopped a car for a document check, and those inside opened fire. Four policemen were wounded, and one of the officers later died in the hospital. Four gunmen escaped from the car, but security forces managed to surround them in a house near the town’s railway station, and armored equipment and commandos were preparing to storm the building. Kabardino-Balkaria’s Interior Minister Yury Tomchak was reportedly personally overseeing the security operation (www.echo.msk.ru, October 2).
Meanwhile, the office of Ramzan Kadyrov reported today that an operation coordinated by the Chechen president himself had killed eight militants in the mountains of southern Chechnya near the administrative border with Dagestan. A spokesman for the office said there were no police casualties in the operation. Interfax quoted Kadyrov as saying: "There are dense forests and high mountains, but regardless we managed to start and carry out the operation successfully" (Reuters, October 2).
Chechen investigators said on September 30 that they had opened a criminal investigation into threats by hackers to kill Kadyrov posted on the Chechnya Today website (www.chechnyatoday.com) in late June. Mariam Nalayeva, a spokeswoman for the Chechen branch of the investigative committee, told the Moscow Times that the threats to kill Kadyrov appeared on the website’s home page for several hours on June 29 after an attack by hackers and that the probe was only opened this week because investigators needed to wait for the Federal Security Service (FSB) to conduct a linguistic analysis of the threats first. "The Chechen branch of the FSB conducted a linguistic analysis that found that the threats carried a real danger," she told the English-language newspaper by telephone from Grozny. A spokesman for Kadyrov’s office told the Moscow Times that a Dagestan resident suspected of organizing the website attack was detained in Moscow this week (Moscow Times, October 1).
Kavkaz Center reported on September 27 that a female suicide bomber tried unsuccessfully to kill Kadyrov that day. The Islamist website cited eyewitnesses who reported that an unidentified woman had tried to cross through a cordon of policemen guarding a building in the town of Gudermes in which Kadyrov was holding a meeting. The woman allegedly detonated explosives when the policemen stopped her, wounding or killing several of them (www.kavkazcenter.com, September 27). There was no independent confirmation of Kavkaz Center’s report. Police in the Chechen village Starye Atagi yesterday reportedly prevented a suicide bomber from blowing up the local police station. The suicide bomber detonated his explosives and died, but no one else was hurt in the abortive attack (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, October 1).
On September 30, Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov told a meeting of the heads of the republic’s security agencies in Grozny that 84 militants have been killed in Chechnya since the beginning of the year. But he also said that 43 young people had joined the rebels since the start of the year, and that 11 of them had done so in September alone.
In Dagestan, the local branch of the FSB reported today that two militants were killed during a special operation in the republic’s Buinaksk district. One submachine-gun, a TT pistol and ammunition were found at the scene of the incident. An FSB source reported that a group of gunmen were spotted during a search operation in the village of Erpeli and that they opened fire when ordered to surrender. Police said the gunmen were members of a gang led by Nabi Migitdinov that operates in the Buinaksk region. Reportedly, Migitdinov has long been on the wanted list for planning and carrying out crimes aimed against law enforcers, and his son was killed this year while attempting to assassinate an imam of one of Buinaksk’s mosques (ITAR-TASS, October 2).
On October 1, gunmen shot and wounded two policemen in the town of Kizlyar, northwest of the Dagestani capital Makhachkala, after their van was stopped at a traffic checkpoint for a routine check. The attackers fired from automatic weapons, wounding a traffic police officer and another police official, before speeding away. A police source said the van was later found abandoned and that weapons and extremist literature was found inside (RIA Novosti, October 1). Also on October 1, a car exploded near a district police office in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s capital. The blast set the car on fire, and the burned body of a man was later found inside the vehicle. In the early hours of October 1, someone fired from a grenade launcher at the building of the Khasavyurt district administration, slightly damaging an office of the planning department located on the third floor of the four-story building. No one was hurt in the incident (ITAR-TASS, October 1).
On September 28, unidentified gunmen fired on a police outpost in the village of Surkhakhi in Ingushetia. The outpost building was slightly damaged but no one was hurt in the attack. That same day, unidentified gunmen fired on the home of the head of administration of the village of Ekazhevo, Nuradin Ekazhev. No one was hurt in the attack. On September 26, an explosive device detonated at the gate of the home of the administration chief of Ingushetia’s Sunzha district, Islam Sainaroev, located in the village of Ordhzonikidzevskaya. No one was hurt in that incident (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, September 28).
Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev said September 29 that 270 militants had been "neutralized" -meaning killed- and another 453 detained since the beginning of the year. As the Kavkazsky Uzel website noted, Russian law enforcement agencies claimed back in the spring of 2008 that there were only around 500 militants left in the North Caucasus (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, September 29).