No Let-Up in Attacks in Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria

Violence continued unabated this week in Dagestan, which increasingly appears to be the new focal point of insurgent activity in the North Caucasus.

Earlier today (June 18), unidentified attackers fired automatic weapons from a car at a vehicle in which Russian servicemen were riding in the city of Kaspiisk. The head of a special-purpose division of a military unit who held the rank of captain was killed in the attack, in which three other servicemen were wounded, including the commander of a military unit and two Federal Security Service (FSB) officers. The three wounded men also hold the rank of captain. None of the victims were named (, June 18).

Four policemen and six militants were killed in a shootout that erupted in the village of Staryi Kostek in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district on June 16 when the rebels, who were holed up in a house, refused to surrender their weapons. Four policemen were wounded in the fighting. Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee reported that the militants killed in Staryi Kostek were members of the so-called Khasavyurt gang headed by Adam Guseinov, which specialized in killing policemen. In addition, Staryi Kostek was the home village of Dzhanet Abdullaeva, one of the two female suicide bombers who carried out the March 29 attacks on the Moscow metro (, Reuters, June 16). A Dagestani investigator told Interfax yesterday that one of the militants killed in Staryi Kostek was Abdul Rasulov, a former member of the Interior Ministry’s Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR) and the older brother of Makhach (Yasin) Rasulov, the ideologue of Dagestan’s rebel Sharia Jamaat, who was killed in a special operation in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala in April 2006 (, June 17).

Also on June 16, four militants were killed in a shootout with police and members of the FSB outside the town of Derbent near a tunnel on the Rostov-Baku federal highway. The incident took place when the police and FSB stopped a car with four suspected rebels, who opened fire and were killed in the ensuing battle. The dead militants were identified as Elbrus Abdulaev, the head of the Derbent rebel group, along with two members of the group, Farid Mistriev and Zakir Magomedov, and an unnamed accomplice (, Reuters, June 16). In a separate incident in Derbent that day, a policeman was killed when a police foot patrol came under fire (, June 16). In yet another incident in Dagestan on June 16, the head of the employment center for Kizilyurt and Kizilyurt district, Rasul Kochkarov, was shot and killed in Kizilyurt (, June 17).

On June 15, a policeman was killed when a police post on the northern side of Makhachkala came under fire, possibly from a sniper (, June 15). On June 13, two policemen were killed and another wounded in Derbent when a police checkpoint came under automatic weapons fire. That same day, a policeman was killed and two passersby were severely wounded in the city of Khasavyurt when an unidentified attacker opened fire on the policeman as he was returning home from work. Also on June 13, three people were wounded when someone threw a hand grenade into a grocery store in Makhachkala. The store is located across from a beer bar that was target of a grenade attack on June 11 (, June 13).

On June 12, one person was killed and five wounded in a bomb blast in Kaspiisk. The incident took place when unknown persons set fire to the office of a police inspector for juvenile affairs and detonated a radio-controlled explosive device as police and firemen arrived at the scene. The person killed in the bombing was a firefighter, while two other firefighters, two policemen and a local resident were injured in the blast (, June 12).

Violence also continued this week in Kabardino-Balkaria. On June 15, unidentified attackers shot and killed a police sergeant in the village of Verkhnaya Zhentala in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Cherkesk district. The attackers came to the policeman’s house, called him outside and shot him dead (, June 16). That same day, a radio-controlled explosive device detonated in the garage of an FSB officer in Nalchik after he opened the garage. The officer was wounded and hospitalized. On June 14, two explosive devices went off in Nalchik. No one was hurt in the blasts (, June 15). On June 14, the bodies of two men were discovered in a car in Nalchik (, June 14).

On June 11, a policeman was killed when a police patrol came under fire in Nalchik across from the city’s central mosque. The dead policeman was identified as Eduard Unatlokov (, June 11).