Militants Ambush Servicemen in Dagestan

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 7

Two servicemen from the Russian Army’s 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade were killed and five were wounded in an ambush in Dagestan on February 10. Kommersant reported on February 12 that an explosion took place at around 7 p.m. on February 10 on the side of the road leading from Buinaksk to the 136th Motorized Infantry Brigade’s shooting range in the village of Gerei-Avlak as a group of eight tank driver-mechanic trainees were returning to their unit after training. The blast, equivalent to around two kilograms of TNT, took place around 20 meters from a bridge across a river. Immediately after the blast, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the recruits from two positions using automatic weapons. The recruits were unarmed and thus unable to fire back. Two soldiers who received the worst shrapnel injuries died later in the hospital. The other five injured recruits were hospitalized in grave condition.

According to Kommersant, Dagestani security officials believe it was not a coincidence that an attack took place in the Buinaksk district following the recent attacks on Dagestani Interior Minister Aldigerei Magomedtagirov and Khasavyurt deputy police chief Raip Ashikov, in which the two high-level officials escaped injury but four of their subordinates died (Chechnya Weekly, February 8). Buinaksk is considered to be one of the worst-off districts in the republic, where the most experienced and dangerous militants from the Sharia Jamaat are based. On February 9, the day before the bombing near Gerei-Avlak, worshipers at a Buinaksk mosque found leaflets containing a message entitled: “Appeal to the inhabitants of Dagestan from the Temirkhanshura [the old name for Buinaksk] group ‘Seifulla’ of the jamaat ‘Sharia.’” The appeal stated: “Any support for infidels against Muslims is kufr [disbelief or rejection of faith]. Every person who belongs to a kaffir [infidel] organization shares its status. Regardless of whether he is a Muslim or not, according to Sharia, the attitude toward him is the same as toward anyone working in these organizations.” The leaflets declared that anyone working inside the force structures or supporting them are “enemies of Allah,” Kommersant reported. Addressing “those who work for the unbelievers,” the leaflets declared: “We don’t wish you death and, even more, we don’t wish you Hell! Reform yourselves, leave that dirty work; don’t force us to destroy you.”

Meanwhile, the leader of the Dagestan branch of the Patriots of Russia party, Eduard Khidirov, was shot and seriously wounded in Makhachkala on February 14. ITAR-Tass reported that Khidirov’s received multiple gunshot wounds and that his brother, driver and a female passenger were also wounded in the attack.