REBELS ATTACK ACROSS CHECHNYA
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 28
The attack in Znamenskoe was one of a series of attacks that suggests the rebels may have launched a new offensive. An armored personnel carrier ferrying Interior Ministry Internal Troops was blown up by a roadside bomb in Grozny on July 18. Radio Liberty’s Russian-language website reported that three servicemen were wounded in the attack. The separatist Kavkazcenter website reported that five servicemen were killed and six wounded on June 18 when rebels attacked an armored column in the Chechen capital, blowing up and shooting up an armored personnel carrier. Chechnya’s Interior Ministry, however, denied that the attack took place. On July 15, Interfax quoted an unnamed local Interior Ministry official as saying that five Russian army servicemen were injured by a roadside bomb that detonated as the vehicle in which they were traveling drove on the western outskirts of the town of Shali. Also on July 15, RIA Novosti quoted the Chechen Interior Ministry as saying that one policeman, identified as Umar Israilov, was killed and another, identified as Artur Shataev, was wounded as they attempted to capture a rebel in the Shali district. The rebel, Movsar Mutsaev, was killed. Separately, two suspected rebels were killed in a clash with police in the Gudermes district village of Azamat-Yurt on July 13, RIA Novosti reported.
Kavkazky Uzel on July 19 quoted an unidentified military source as saying that more than 30 servicemen with the GRU, Russian military intelligence, were killed not long ago in a battle with rebels in the Vedeno district. The source told the website that two GRU reconnaissance groups had been ambushed while on a mission. “It is a common tactic – at night, a helicopter with infrared gear on board locates a group of militants moving on Chechen territory, and in the morning a group of spetsnaz goes out and destroys them,” the source said. This time, however, both spetsnaz groups were ambushed, the source said: “They managed to take up a defensive position but were destroyed by grenade launchers.” The source said that “several tens” of rebel fighters were killed in the battle and that the only GRU servicemen of the group to survive the attack saw rebels remove their dead comrades from the battlefield. President Vladimir Putin signed a secret decree awarding the GRU survivor a Hero of Russia medal, the source said.
The account of this incident would seem to corroborate with one mentioned by Doku Umarov in his interview with Radio Liberty correspondent Andre Babitsky in mid-June. The rebel field commander told Babitsky that rebels had killed 38 members of a 39-man GRU unit in a battle that took place in the Itum-Kale district (see below).