Militants Kill Three in Ingush Village

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 27

On July 11, unknown gunmen attacked a car in which policemen were traveling in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya, Ingushetia, wounding three of them. A source in Ingushetia’s Investigative Committee told RIA Novosti that the attackers fired grenade launchers and automatic weapons at the vehicle. On July 8, a group of armed rebels raided the village of Muzhichy in Ingushetia and killed three men linked to the security forces. Citing Russian media reports, the Moscow Times on July 10 quoted an eyewitness as saying that 15 armed men dragged the three men from a group standing outside a shop and shot them in a well-planned attack. The slain men were a policeman, a former Interior Ministry officer and a military teacher. “The whole attack lasted no more than 15 minutes,” Isa Gandarov, a lawyer, was quoted as saying. “There were no more than 15 rebels, and they spoke in Chechen, Ingush and Russian.”

According to the Moscow Times, most of the people living in Muzhichy hurried on when asked for comment about the attack on July 9, the day after it took place, as police and special forces in armored personnel carriers patrolled the village. The English-language newspaper quoted one woman as saying in an exasperated voice: “Why were these people killed? Because they were trying to support their families?”

In its own story on the rebel raid on Muzhichy, Nezavismaya Gazeta, citing sources in Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, reported on July 10 that a group of up to 15 militants had entered the village from a wooded mountainous area and that some of the raiders had burst into one of the village’s shops, stealing the shop’s cash register and food, while other rebel gunmen stole two cars from local residents. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, besides killing three villagers connected to the security forces, the raiders shot and wounded another local resident and, after leaving Muzhichy, attacked a checkpoint belonging to an Interior Ministry Internal Troops operational regiment on the outskirts of the village of Nesterovskaya. After an exchange of fire, the militants retreated. “Representatives of the law-enforcement organs assert that the bandits spoke in Chechen [and] presumably entered Ingushetia from the Chechen settlement of Assinovskaya and escaped in the same direction,” the newspaper wrote.

Itar-Tass reported on July 6 that four militants were killed in a special operation in Ingushetia during which two servicemen were also killed and two policemen were wounded. The news agency reported that gunmen in a VAZ-2110 automobile had attacked a group of policemen in the Ingush city of Malgobek on July 5, wounding one. Less than an hour later, gunmen near the settlement of Verkhnie Achaluki in Ingushetia’s Malgobeksky district fired automatic weapons and a grenade launcher at a vehicle carrying five republican Interior Ministry officers, killing one and wounding two. After the second incident, the gunmen tried to escape, ditching their car near the settlement of Nizhnie Achaluki and running into a wooded area, but were surrounded by security forces.

Four rebels were killed in an ensuing special operation, during which two servicemen were killed and two policemen wounded. Ingushetia’s Investigative Committee identified two of the slain militants as Ilyas Bokov and Khamagomed Bogatyrev, both of them residents of Ingushetia who were wanted for alleged participation in the rebel raid on police and government installations in Ingushetia in June 2004. The other two slain militants, whose bodies were also found in the wooded area, were not identified.

Also on July 6, the head of the anti-narcotics section of the anti-organized crime directorate (UBOP) of Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, Magomed Bapkhoev, was killed when unidentified gunmen fired on his car in the city of Nazran’s Barsuki municipal district. Sources in Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry told Interfax that Bapkhoev died on the way to the hospital and that his wife, who was in the car with him at the time of attack, was wounded.

On July 4, unidentified attackers burned down a new house belonging to Ingushetia’s vice-premier in charge of security issues, Bashir Aushev, in Nazran’s Tsentr-Kamaz district. A source in Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry told RIA Novosti on July 5 that the attackers had pulled up to the house the previous evening and thrown several Molotov cocktails inside. Also on July 4, a large improvised explosive device was discovered along the side of the road on the Kavkaz highway near the settlement of Gazi-Yurt in Ingushetia’s Nazran district. Kavkazky Uzel reported that the device was destroyed in a controlled explosion.

The Moscow Times reported on July 10 that at present, “military helicopters fly hourly over Ingushetia, and the army sweeps the roadsides daily for bombs.”

Meanwhile, reported on July 7 that 34-year-old Khamid Iliev was abducted on July 5 from his home in Erzi, a settlement for Chechen refugees in Ingushetia, by people dressed in camouflage and armed with automatic weapons. Police subsequently detained a 25-year-old resident of the village of Guli, in Ingushetia’s Dzheiraksky district, in connection with the crime, and relatives of Iliev identified the suspect as having been involved in the abduction. A source in Ingushetia’s Investigative Committee said the abduction was probably part of a vendetta.

In a commentary on the situation in Ingushetia published in the Guardian on July 8, Human Rights Watch researcher Tanya Lokshina reiterated the thrust of the group’s recently-published report on Ingushetia (North Caucasus Weekly, June 26)—that in the wake of the June 2004 raid on two towns in Ingushetia by rebels led by Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev, heavy-handed security operations resembling those previously carried out in Chechnya have actually strengthened Ingushetia’s insurgency.

“Young men suspected of involvement with insurgency were hauled off by security services and tortured into incriminating themselves and others,” Lokshina wrote. “Those who they named when the beatings and the electric shocks became unbearable were also rounded up and tortured. After the hostage-taking atrocity at a school in the North Ossetian town of Beslan in September 2004, these ‘dirty war’ tactics became even more widespread in neighboring Ingushetia. The ‘lucky’ ones who were tortured but released—as opposed to disappeared or convicted in flawed trials—knew that normal life was over. They were already in the database of the ‘usual suspects’ and would either have to flee Ingushetia, be ready for further detention and torture, or join the rebels for the lack of a better choice. As the Ingush insurgents developed a militant Islamist agenda, the authorities also tagged as a potential insurgent any strictly observant young Muslim. Ingush villages suffered sweeps and targeted raids.”

According to Lokshina, such “dirty war” tactics, combined with the violent suppression of public protests against the administration of Ingushetia’s president, Murat Zyazikov, have served only to alienate and even radicalize the republic’s population. “After four years of counter-terrorism in Ingushetia, the insurgency has only intensified,” she wrote. “Those people who once supported the government’s counter-terrorism agenda now see the government as the enemy. It didn’t have to be this way. And Russia’s European partners can help the people of Ingushetia, and the wider region, by using their influence with Moscow to change this policy. Russia can still end impunity for killings, disappearances and torture in Ingushetia. It can work to regain the trust of Ingush communities and starve the insurgency of potential supporters. It can stop Ingushetia from becoming the full-blown human rights crisis that is synonymous with Chechnya.”