On January 2, the Chechen authorities announced that they had arrested a gang responsible for nine murders and twelve armed attacks on Chechen territory and that of neighboring Dagestan. They reported that while four members of the group had been arrested in the Shelkovsky district, others had resisted and managed to flee to the capital Djohar (formerly Grozny), where they took refuge in a hospital. After the hospital was surrounded, five gang members surrendered, with a large arms cache, including grenade launchers and mines in their possession. According to Chechnya’s Ministry of Sharia State Security, the gang had also been involved in kidnappings. The republic has been hit by a wave of kidnappings and hostage-seizures since the final withdrawal of Russian forces back in 1996 (Russian agencies, January 3).
Violence continued to plague other parts of the North Caucasus in the first days of the new year. Five people were killed yesterday in the republic of Ingushetia during a shoot-out between two criminal gangs, Russia’s Interior Ministry reported. The victims were all gang members–three from one gang, two from the other (Russian agencies, January 3). On New Year’s Day, three policemen in Khasavyurt, Dagestan were reportedly wounded when their patrol car hit a landmine (Russian agencies, January 1). Several bombs were reportedly defused in Dagestan on December 30 (Izvestia, December 31).
CHECHEN AUTHORITIES CLAIM TO DEFUSE RADIOACTIVE BOMB.