Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 29

Interfax reported on July 26 that an explosion targeting a police van in the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt wounded six members of a federal Interior Ministry mobile unit. Sources in Dagestan’s Interior Ministry told the news agency that the incident took place 500 meters from the Interior Ministry building in Khasavyurt. Interfax reported that two of the wounded Interior Ministry officers were in grave condition while the other four were hospitalized with less serious injuries. According to Dagestani Interior Ministry sources, shortly after the police van was bombed, a large radio-controlled explosive device was found near the Khasavyurt Interior Ministry building and defused. That device consisted of a metal container filled with a mixture of aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate, pieces of metal and an electric detonator.

A law enforcement source also told Interfax on July 26 that a powerful explosive device had been found on a highway linking the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala and the town of Krasnoarmeisk. The source said that the device, which was safely defused, contained the equivalent of 10 kilograms of TNT and was planted on a road 100 meters from a bridge across a railroad. The device, like the one defused in Khasavyurt, consisted of a metal bucket filled with a mixture of aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate, pieces of metal and an electric detonator. Had it detonated, it could have caused numerous casualties, the source said.

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel reported on July 26 that the head of the GAI traffic police department in the Dagestani city of Izberbash, Kamil Omarov, was killed and another GAI officer wounded when they pulled over a suspected stolen car on the Kavkaz highway near the settlement of Inchkhe. Two people got out of the car and opened fire on the officers. In its account of the incident on July 26, the separatist Chechenpress website reported that both GAI officers had been killed in the attack and that the shooters were rebel fighters.

On July 24, an explosion under a commuter train traveling from Makhachkala to Khasavyurt killed one person and injured four others. The Associated Press quoted Akhmed Magomaev, deputy chief of Dagestan’s railroad police department, as saying that the blast, which derailed the train’s first car and left a crater in the track bed, was apparently caused by a bomb detonated by remote control. Also on July 24, police reported that two powerful explosive devices were found in a car in the southern city of Kaspiisk. Dagestani Interior Ministry spokeswoman Angela Martirosova told the AP that police had found the car the previous evening and that engineers were working to defuse the devices, which consisted of artillery shells strapped together with grenades. Kommersant reported on July 25 that investigators believe the bombs were part of the arsenal belonging to the Sharia Jamaat and that the group had used such devices in three attacks in early July – the bombing at a Makhachkala public bathhouse that killed 11 Interior Ministry servicemen, the bombing of a police post on Makhachkala’s outskirts and the failed bombing of the Russian Drama Theater in Makhachkala.

Nezavisimaya gazeta on July 25 quoted Fedor Shcherbakov, presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Dmitry Kozak, as saying that the situation in Dagestan is becoming “dangerously explosive.” He told the newspaper that the number of crimes carried out with the use of explosive devices in the republic has grown more than 230 percent compared with the same period last year, and one-ninth of all the explosions that have taken place in Russia so far this year have occurred in Dagestan.