Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 17

Kavkazky Uzel reported on May 2 that a large-scale battle took place between a group of rebel fighters and a federal military unit in Chechnya’s Nozhai-Yurt district, which is located in the southeastern part of the republic. A source in the federal command told the website there were casualties on both sides: “During a short engagement, two members of the illegal armed formations were killed,” the source said. “From our side, a contract serviceman was killed, and several other soldiers received wounds of various levels of severity. All of the wounded were hospitalized.” Military sources said the dead rebels were members of the group headed by rebel field commander Akhmed Avdorkhanov, who once headed the late Aslan Maskhadov’s personal bodyguard detail.

NTV, meanwhile, reported on May 2 that, according to Russian intelligence information, rebels on the outskirts of Tsentoroi, the home village of Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, are conducting training exercises for a planned attack on the village. The television channel quoted Kadyrov himself as saying that rebel field commander Shamil Basaev is aiming to “destroy” Tsentoroi in order to destroy the morale of the pro-Moscow Chechen forces. Kadyrov also claimed that the rebels are increasingly trying to discredit Chechen security forces by donning the uniforms of the presidential security service, which Kadyrov heads, and then taking money from people who have received compensation for homes destroyed in the war.

For its part, the separatist Kavkazcenter website on May 3 quoted a rebel source as saying that “mobile units” of “emir Akhmad” (Akhmad Avdorkhanov) and “emir Rabbani” (Rappani Khalilov) had the previous day killed eleven “mercenaries” in a fierce battle with “spetsnaz of the occupiers” in Nozahi-Yurt. The source claimed that one rebel died and four were wounded in the battle, and that the federal forces had called in airstrikes and artillery barrages against rebel positions. According to the source, no rebels were injured or killed by the bombing.

Meanwhile, Gen.-Major Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for the Russian military operation in the North Caucasus, claimed on May 3 that nine militants had been captured over the previous two days, Interfax reported. Three were captured in Grozny, he said: two are suspected of organizing and perpetrating attacks on officials and federal troops in the Vedeno and Shali districts while the third belongs to a militant group active in the Urus-Martan and Achkhoi-Martan districts. Another militant, captured near Grozny, is a member of Isa Sadaev’s armed group suspected of attacks on civilians, he continued. Five other militants were captured in operations in Petropavlovskaya, Novoterskoye, Gudermes and Urus-Martan, Shabalkin said. They are suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks and of shooting at federal forces.