Six federal servicemen were killed and eight wounded in a firefight in the Chechen highlands’ Vedeno district last weekend, the news agency Interfax reported on July 21. A Russian military source told the agency that the firefight began when a group of rebel guerrillas was intercepted on its way to the village of Dyshne-Vedeno. Four of the federal dead were troops recruited from within Chechnya.
Federal forces launched a massive security sweep in Grozny earlier this week, the pro-Kremlin news agency Itar-Tass reported on July 21. A spokesman for the Russian military said that the purpose of the operation was to neutralize rebel guerrillas, whose numbers in the Chechen capital have been growing significantly in recent weeks. (Neither the spokesman nor the news agency attempted to reconcile this statement with the Kremlin’s repeated reassurances that the situation in Chechnya is “becoming normal.”) According to a July 22 report in Gzt.ru, not only police but regular army units were taking part in the security sweep–including paratroopers. An account published in Kommersant on the same day stated that the operation also targeted the village of Alkhan-Kale, home of the late Chechen terrorist Arbi Baraev.
The Associated Press reported that an officer of Russia’s special police from Rostov on the Don was killed on July 21 when a mine exploded under a bus carrying his unit back to its base in western Chechnya. Four of the officer’s comrades were severely injured and hospitalized, said a source in the federal Interior Ministry.