Fighting between security forces and militants continued in Chechnya and Ingushetia this week, with dead and wounded reported on both sides.
A police official in Chechnya reported today (October 16) that a militant was killed in a shootout in the village of Eshelkhatoi in Chechnya’s southeastern Vedeno District. The official said the militant was a local resident who was on the federal wanted list and that no police officers were hurt in the incident, adding that a grenade was found at the scene. Meanwhile, two suspected militants were detained in Chechnya’s northeastern Shelkovsky district yesterday (RIA Novosti, October 16).
Also on October 15, a rebel accomplice was reportedly detained in Grozny, the Chechen capital. The 27-year-old local resident was accused of transporting members of a rebel group in his car. On October 14, an Eshelkhatoi resident was detained for providing members of the rebel underground with food during the period of 2004-2008.
Security forces in Chechnya are reportedly currently searching for two groups of militants in the Achkhoi-Martan and mountainous Vedeno districts. Security forces reportedly discovered and destroyed a rebel base and killed one militant on the outskirts of Eshelkhatoi on the morning of October 15. According to the Kavkazsky Uzel website, the Eshelkhatoi operation included members of the Chechen interior ministry’s Akhmat Kadyrov police spetsnaz regiment, local Vedeno police and the Sever special forces battalion of the Russian interior ministry’s internal troops, and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov personally traveled to the scene of the operation. The slain militant was identified as Turpal-Ali Mutalipov, a resident of the village of Vedeno (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, October 16).
Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov reported on October 15 that two policemen were wounded and an undetermined number of militants killed and wounded in a shootout in the Achkhoi-Martan district. According to other reports, one Chechen policeman was killed and a second wounded in the battle, which took place in wooded area near the village of Samashki. Kavkazsky Uzel quoted a police source as saying that the slain policeman was a deputy battalion commander and that the second policeman was gravely wounded.
Also on October 15, Kadyrov told journalists that the rebels in Chechnya have been “driven into a corner and are starving,” and that the republic’s law enforcement bodies are being actively assisted in the fight against the rebels by local residents. Kadyrov claimed that several days earlier, a local resident had turned in his son –a militant who had been wounded– to police. Kavkazsky Uzel noted: “In that connection, it should be noted that relatives of members of the armed formations in Chechnya are being pursued and pressured by the power structures. One of the main means of the Chechen siloviki in countering the defection of young people to the militants is to burn down the homes of their relatives.” The website further noted that the families of slain militants are forbidden from burying them in cemeteries or holding wakes for them (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, October 15).
A counter-terrorist operation was launched on October 15 in the Sunzha district in neighboring Ingushetia. According to a Federal Security Service (FSB) spokesman, authorities ordered the operation, which targeted the Sunzha district village of Nesterovskaya and its outskirts up to the administrative border with Chechnya, after receiving information that a group of gunmen were preparing to carry out terrorist attacks in the area (RIA Novosti, ITAR-TASS, October 15).
Also on October 15, the Ingush branch of the FSB and interior ministry discovered two arms caches near a railroad track in the city of Karabulak. One of the caches contained homemade bombs and bomb components, a grenade launcher and projectiles, and hand grenades and cartridges, while the other cache contained a homemade bomb, 10 detonators and ball bearings to be used in homemade bombs, 100 grams of explosives, seven RPG-7 grenade launcher projectiles, an RPG-18 grenade launcher, 25 VOG-25 grenade launcher projectiles, a Kalashnikov submachine gun and various types of ammunition. An FSB source said the weaponry was to be used in terrorist acts targeting crowded places and attacks on officials with the goal of destabilizing Ingushetia and the region during and after the October 11 municipal elections (Interfax, October 15). According to the FSB, three rebels captured on October 8 –Adam Yevloev, Bekkhan Mamsurov and Artur Murzabekov– had revealed the location of the armed caches (RIA Novosti, October 15).
Seven insurgents and two security force members were killed on October 12 in a day-long battle in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district near the administrative border with Chechnya. The Associated Press quoted Ingushetia’s interior ministry as saying that two other members of the security forces were wounded in the fighting. The operation reportedly involved both Ingush and Chechen security forces (AP, October 13; www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, October 15).
Senior police officials reportedly told a meeting in Dagestan’s interior ministry yesterday (October 15) that 65 people were killed and another 135 were injured in 150 attacks on law-enforcement officers in the republic during the first nine months of this year. During the same period of last year, 27 policemen were killed and another 50 injured. In the first nine months of this year, 14 civilians were killed and another 29 wounded in rebel attacks in Dagestan (ITAR-TASS, October 15).