Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 188

An explosion took place Saturday on the Makhachkala-Buinaksk railway line, near the Shamkhal station, next to a train carrying troops to the Defense Ministry’s 136th Motorized Buinaksk Brigade. One serviceman was killed by the explosion. Two wagons were knocked off the rails and caught fire. A second explosion took place just after firefighters arrived on the scene. One firefighter was killed, a second wounded (NTV television, RTR television, October 10). One does not have to be in law enforcement to reach the conclusion that the explosions were the result of terrorism. Russian troops in Dagestan–not including borderguards, whose function is controlling fish-poaching–have no involvement in the criminal carving up of spheres of influence. Thus one can rule out “commercial” motives for this terrorist act. Another version–that criminals were trying to destroy some kind of specific military item being transported–is also being viewed in Makhachkala as unlikely.

The senselessness and absence of motive for this act of terror against army units can be linked to “jihad” or gazzavat” declared by Islamic radicals, who, as Russian military men themselves like to repeat, were trained in the camps of the Chechen field commander Khottab. The Russian army unit in Buinaksk was attacked last year in December. An underground Islamic organization, “The Central Front for the Liberation of Dagestan,” took responsibility for that incident–proclaiming as its goal “the liberation of the republic from Russian ‘kafirs’ [unbelievers]” and the creation of an Islamic state. Several Islamic fundamentalists from the Dagestani village of Karamakhi were subsequently arrested on suspicion of having participated in that attack. “Nezavisimaya gazeta” believes, however, that the recent explosion on the railway line might have been a diversionary maneuver, during which time an action not noticed by anyone was undertaken–possibly along the Dagestani-Chechen border (Nezavisimaya gazeta, October 13).