Russian news agencies reported on February 9 that one Chechen Interior Ministry officer was killed and two wounded in a battle that took place that day between Chechen law-enforcement personnel and members of “illegal armed formations” in southeastern Chechnya. Citing Chechnya Interior Ministry, Interfax reported that security forces discovered a group consisting of as many as 30 militants while conducting a reconnaissance operation in a wooded area near the village of Dargo in Chechnya’s Vedeno district. Itar-Tass, citing Chechen law-enforcement sources, reported that the rebel group was apparently headed by Usman Muntsigov, aka Shatral, a field commander and Dargo native who has been on the federal wanted list since 2006 and who, according to Chechnya’s Interior Ministry, led an attack on the Chechen village of Benoi-Vedeno last June (North Caucasus Weekly, June 19, 2008).
The Utro.ru website reported that Chechen Interior Ministry troops as well as servicemen with the Chechen-manned Sever (North) and Yug (South) battalions of the federal Interior Ministry were involved in the operation and that the slain officer was a deputy platoon commander. A Chechen Interior Ministry source was quoted as saying that following the shootout, the body of one militant was found along with bloody bandages and signs that people had been dragged along the ground, indicating that other militants had been killed or wounded. Utro.ru reported that the slain militant was an inhabitant of Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district.
Meanwhile, bomb disposal experts removed and destroyed a remote control bomb made out of a 122-millimeter artillery that had been planted on a railway in Chechnya’s Shelkovskaya district, Interfax reported on February 9.