A spokesman for the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office, Vladimir Markin, announced today (December 1) that a blast on the Tyumen-Baku railway line in Dagestan yesterday (November 30) was a terrorist act. That blast, which investigators said equaled 300 grams of TNT, slightly damaged a locomotive, but did not derail the eight-car train that was traveling on the rail line at the time of the blast.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, declared that the blast on the Dagestani railway was a terrorist act “similar” to the November 27 bombing of the Nevsky Express luxury train between St. Petersburg and Moscow, which killed 26 people and injured scores of others. A second explosive device partially detonated at the site of the Nevsky Express bombing on November 28 as railway workers were clearing debris. Alexander Bobreshov, a vice president of Russian Railways, said on Ekho Moskvy radio yesterday that the two blasts on the Nevsky Express line was an example of “the so-called double-blast method” used by “North Caucasus sabotage groups” (www.newsru.com, Moscow Times, December 1; Associated Press, November 30).
The Dagestani railway blast was just one in a series of apparent insurgent attacks in Dagestan. The republic’s interior ministry reported that a suspected rebel was gunned down yesterday when several people in a car fired at police at a checkpoint. The ministry said two policemen were wounded in the shootout. The incident took place in Dagestan’s Kizlyurt district (Associated Press, RIA Novosti, December 1). Also yesterday, a traffic policeman was hospitalized after being shot in the stomach in the republic’s capital Makhachkala. The policeman was reportedly in critical condition. Earlier yesterday, unidentified gunmen in Makhachkala fired on a car carrying Abrek Gadzhiev, the head of Dagestan’s Magaramkentsky district. Gadzhiev died of his wounds in the hospital. His driver was also wounded in the attack (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, November 30).
On November 26, an explosive device detonated in front of a diesel locomotive south of Makhachkala. Earlier that day, an improvised explosive device was discovered on the Mazdok-Kazimagomed gas pipeline in Dagestan’s Kayakentsky district. On November 25, unidentified gunmen fired on a car in which a police official was traveling in Makhachkala, wounding him in the head. That same day, gunmen in masks shot the commander of a Dagestani police Special Forces detachment (SOBR), Shapi Aligadzhiev, in Makhachkala. One of his bodyguards shot and killed one of the attackers but the others managed to escape. Aligadzhiev died later that day in the hospital. Also on November 25, a bomb disposal expert with the interior ministry’s internal troops was wounded when an explosive device detonated during an operation in a wooded area on the outskirts of the village of Gubden in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district (www.kavkaz-uzel, www.newsru.com, November 26).
Violent incidents have also been reported in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria over the past several days. Chechen interior ministry spokesman Magomed Deniev said today that one suspected militant was killed late yesterday in the village of Samashki and that a police officer was wounded in the shootout (RIA Novosti, December 1). The bodies of two police officers were found with bullet wounds in a car in the town of Gudermes on November 27. The officers were identified as Senior Lieutenant Myakhdi Khizriev and Sergeant Myakhdi Kasumov (RIA Novosti, November 28). The police chief of the Ingush city of Karabulak, Adyl-Kerim Tsechoev, died in the hospital on November 27 after his car was blown up in the town of Ordzhonikidzevskaya. A bomb equivalent to roughly 500 grams of TNT had been fixed to the undercarriage of Tsechoev’s armored car. An Ingush interior ministry source said the explosion injured a bystander (ITAR-TASS, November 27).
On November 26, a warrant officer was killed while another serviceman and a policeman were wounded in a shooting in Kabardino-Balkaria’s capital, Nalchik. Kavkazky Uzel on November 27 quoted a Kabardino-Balkaria law enforcement sources as saying that the incident took place around 4:00 p.m., local time, the previous day when police stopped two men for a document check, one of whom open fire on them with a pistol, wounding one policemen. A warrant officer and another serviceman from a nearby military post who happened to be walking by were also hit by bullets. All three men were taken to the hospital, where the warrant officer died. The shooter and the man who was with him managed to escape. Police said they managed to identify the two, one of whose passports was found at the scene of the shooting. Both were said to be 23-year-old residents of the city of Baksan.
On November 23, authorities in the city of Chegem in Kabardino-Balkaria found the decapitated bodies of Murat Dokshukin, a 27-year-old interrogating officer with the Chegem branch of the federal court bailiff’s service, and Albert Shebzukhov, a 26-year-old Bakasan district police investigator, in the trunk of a Mercedes. Investigators said the two had been tortured before being killed.
The federal Investigative Committee’s local senior investigator in Chegem, Anzor Tlepshev, said that the murder-beheadings may have been an act of revenge by the republic’s armed militant underground for an article local newspaper article trumpeting victory over the insurgents. “Following a news story in one of the republican newspapers about the liquidation of the leaders of the republican ‘Shura’, which had the headline ‘The Shura has been decapitated,’ the extremists announced that they would behead [law-enforcement] employees,” Tlepshev said (www.gazeta.ru, November 24).