Police, Militants Killed in Clashes in Dagestan and Chechnya

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 126

Militants in Dagestan today attacked the headquarters of the police in the city of Derbent, just south of the republic capital Makhachkala and near the border with Georgia, Russian and Western news agencies reported. According to the Associated Press, three policemen and a civilian died in the attack. The news agency quoted Dagestani interior ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky as saying that the attack came in two phases, with one officer killed and two others wounded when gunmen opened fire on the facility just after midnight, and another two officers killed and 12 police and bystanders wounded two hours later when a car parked outside exploded. AP quoted Tolchinsky as saying the driver of the car was found dead in the vehicle’s trunk (Associated Press, July 1).

Interfax quoted a source in the Derbent police department as saying one policeman was killed and two wounded in the gun attack on the police headquarters and that 12 people were wounded in the subsequent car bomb blast outside. The source said the attackers had also shot and killed the car’s driver when they stole the vehicle, after which they put his body in the trunk and stuffed the vehicle with explosives (Interfax, July 1).

For its part, the Kavkaz-Center Islamist separatist website reported that a unit of the "Dagestani Front of the Armed Forces of the Caucasus Emirate" had carried out a "successful special operation" in the city of Derbent, attacking "a large gang of murtads" (apostates) of the local police and killing or wounding 16 of them. According to the website, the attack in Derbent was the "the first large-scale operation by mujahideen" in the city. It reported that "mujahideen" in southern Dagestan had earlier posted a statement on the internet swearing allegiance to "the Emir of the Caucasus Emirate Dokka Abu Usman" – that is, to Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov (www.kavkazcenter.com, July 1).

On June 30, there were two attacks on police in Dagestan – one in the city of Khasavyurt and the other in the village of Kosomolsky in the republic Kizilyurtsky district. One policeman was shot in the leg in the attack in Khasavyurt, while policemen in Komsomosky escaped injury when they came under fire. On June 29, a police major was shot and seriously wounded in the town of Dagestanskie Ogni in Dagestan’s Derbent district, and on June 28, three policemen were wounded in a bomb blast in Khasavyurt (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, June 30).

On June 27, rebels and police were killed in a shootout in the village of Gubden in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district south of Makhachkala. AP quoted interior ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky as saying that interior ministry troops patrolling Gubden clashed with a group of 10 gunmen who were attempting to hide out in houses in the village, but were driven into the surrounding hillsides. The spokesman said officials then called in helicopter gunships and armored vehicles to shell the forests where the gunmen fled, and troops sweeping the forest on the morning of June 28 found the bodies of four gunmen (Associated Press, June 28). An interior ministry serviceman was also killed in the fighting in Gubden, Russian news agencies reported (www.newsru.com, June 28).

According to the Kavkazsky Uzel website, the chairwoman of the group Mothers of Dagestan for Human Rights, Svetlana Isaeva, reported that the bodies of two of the four alleged rebel gunmen killed in the fighting in Gubden were subsequently identified in a Makhachkala morgue by relatives, who indicated that the dead men were in fact civilians who had been detained several days earlier by unidentified armed men and had subsequently disappeared. One of the slain men was identified as Gitikhma Dzhavatkhanov, who had worked as the director of an Islamic restaurant and had no police record (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, June 29).

Meanwhile, one soldier was killed and three wounded when militants attacked a police convoy in Chechnya’s Vedeno district on June 30. RIA Novosti quoted a police source as saying that the convoy, consisting of a GAZelle truck and two UAZ vehicles, was traveling from the Russian military base at Khankala outside the Chechen capital Grozny when it was attacked by around 10 militants. In a separate incident in Chechnya, Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov reported on June 30 that two militants, including the wanted rebel "emir" of the city of Shali, Abubakar Musliev, were shot and killed in a shootout with police in Shali (RIA Novosti, June 30).

The latest violence came just a few days after the Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs’ Battalion claimed responsibility for the June 22 suicide car bomb attack on the motorcade of Ingushetia’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov (EDM, June 23). In a statement posted on the Kavkaz-Center website, the group said the attack on Yevkurov was carried out on the orders of the leadership of the Caucasus Emirate and "yet again showed the Kremlin and its slaves in the Caucasus that the mujahideen are the legal authorities of this land and we will never accept the enemies’ laws and its occupation" (www.kavkazcenter.com, June 27; Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, June 28). The Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs’ Battalion was previously associated with the late Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basaev.

Yevkurov remains in stable condition in a Moscow hospital, Interfax reported on June 30. Meanwhile, a DNA analysis has revealed that the suicide bomber who attacked Yevkurov on June 22 was male (Moscow Times, July 1). There had originally been speculation that the attacker was a woman.