Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 37

Rebel attacks have increased in Chechnya over the last week. Interfax reported on September 28 that a police officer was killed and another wounded in an attack by “members of illegal armed groups.” The news agency quoted a Chechen Interior Ministry source as saying that the attack took place on the evening of September 27 when gunmen fired on a police convoy traveling on the road linking Argun and the village of Chervlenaya. The two police vehicles were heading from Khankala to Mozdok in North Ossetia. A police officer from Kabardino-Balkaria was killed on the spot, while an officer with an OMON unit of the Moscow main department of internal affairs was wounded and hospitalized. On September 23, a shootout took place near the settlement of Yukerchu-Gonkha between a spetsnaz unit from the Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops and unidentified gunmen. According to Nezavisimaya gazeta, the battle lasted around 15 minutes, during which four of the servicemen were wounded and three of the gunmen were killed. The rest of the gunmen escaped. The newspaper reported that in another incident, a group of servicemen was the target of a homemade explosive device that was detonated on the outskirts of the village of Dzhani-Vedeno. Two of the servicemen died on the spot and another was hospitalized with wounds. On September 21, five Interior Ministry servicemen from Sverdlovsk were killed when their car was ambushed in Grozny’s Staropromyslovsky district (Chechnya Weekly, September 21). Nezavisimaya gazeta on September 25 quoted the Chechen Interior Ministry’s press service as saying that the perpetrators of the attack had not been found. In addition, on September 21, the head of the Shatoi district military commissariat was murdered, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, the separatist website reported on September 24 that the commander of the rebel’s eastern front, identified as Amir Musa, had died of wounds received in battle and that rebel leader Dokku Umarov had appointed a replacement. The website did not name the new eastern front commander. Interfax reported on September 22 that four former militants had surrendered to police in Grozny and a rebel accomplice had surrendered in Argun the previous day.

Violence continues in other parts of the North Caucasus. Interfax on September 28 quoted a police source in the Stavropol Krai city of Mineralnye Vody as saying that a resident of Stavropol’s Predgorny district had been detained on suspicion of murdering a Muslim cleric. The cleric, Abubekir Kurdzhiev, was shot to death at the entranceway to his house in the Stavropol Krai town of Kislovodsk on September 25. Itar-Tass reported that police pursued two men and wounded one suspected assassin in a firefight, during which a police officer was also injured. The separatist website reported on September 26 that a statement had been sent to reporters by someone describing himself as the “Mujahideen leader of the Jamaat of Karachaevo-Cherkessia,” but not identifying himself by name, claiming responsibility “for the execution of a munafiq [hypocrite] ‘imam’ in the Caucasian town of Kislovodsk.” The statement warned that there would be more such attacks. “There is a list of traitors who under the guise of Islam commit dirty crimes and hamper the victory of true Islam, these are people who sold out and they are the ones we target,” the statement read.

In Ingushetia, an exchange of fire between police and unidentified gunmen in the town of Malgobek wounded two policemen and two local residents, Itar-Tass reported on September 25. The news agency quoted sources in the federal Prosecutor General’s Office as saying that two unidentified people wearing camouflage uniforms and masks and riding in a silver-yellow VAZ-21114 car ignored a police patrol’s order to stop and tried to escape. The vehicle was damaged and stopped during the pursuit, after which the sides exchanged fire. Under return fire by police, the unidentified gunmen left the vehicle, seized a Gazel car at gunpoint and disappeared. Cartridges and two magazines to the Kalashnikov submachine gun were found at the site. Three Kalashnikov submachine guns and a Makarov pistol, along with two combat knives, several grenades, and 18 Kalashnikov magazines, were found inside the vehicle. According to Itar-Tass, police also seized a homemade explosive device, two Kenwood radio units, two silencers (for a Kalashnikov and a Makarov), eight masks and fatigues.

Meanwhile, the chief of administration of Adygeya’s Krasnogvardeysk district, Murat Kudaev, was killed on September 25 when unidentified gunmen in camouflage uniforms fired on his car, the Regnum news agency reported.