Rebels Reportedly Kill Dozens of Servicemen in Ingushetia

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 40

Following the capture of the foothill villages of Muzhichi and Yandare in Ingushetia on the evening of October 16 (North Caucasus Weekly, October 16), militants from the Ingush Jamaat “Shariat” carried out another series of high-profile actions against Russian troops. According to various sources, more than 50 Russian military personnel were killed and wounded in two assaults by the militants on the Galashki Highway on October 18, which would make this the most audacious attack by the jamaat members in Ingushetia to date. According to the media reports, the attack on the Russian military motorcade took place on the Alkhasty-Surkhokhi road in Ingushetia’s Nazran district at ten in the morning. According to Ingush Prosecutor General Yury Turygyn, only two soldiers were killed and five were wounded in the attack. All of them were from Interior Ministry detachments based in the village of Alkhasty (RIA Novosti, October 18) According to Turygyn, the assault was carried out by members of “illegal armed formations” with the purpose of destabilizing the situation in the region. Turygyn, however, was apparently referring to the casualties in an attack on another column of servicemen that had occurred earlier on October 18, and the Regnum News Agency quoted a source in the Interior Ministry department for Ingushetia’s Sunzha district as saying that all the soldiers in the column targeted in the second attack were killed except for one and that the total number killed was around 50. The surviving serviceman was transported to the Sunzha Central District Hospital, the source said (www.regnum.ru/news/1071507.html). Thus, according to the Ingush police, two attacks took place, not one, as the Ingush Prosecutor General’s Office claims.

The opposition website Ingushetia.org referred to the specific spot where the attack took place—in the vicinity of a sanatorium located between the villages of Galashki and Muzhichi—and put the number of Russian military personnel killed in the attack at between 60 and 90 (Ingushetia.org, October 18). The website also reported that the militants destroyed three BTRs (armored personnel carriers), two Ural trucks and two UAZ vehicles and that most of the soldiers killed in the assault were in the Ural truck, “which came under the massive fire from different points” (http://www.ingushetia.org/news/16137.html). According to Ingushetia.org, two assaults were carried out against the Russian servicemen in different locations on October 18 (http://www.ingushetia.org/news/16140.html).

It is noteworthy that the Russian side, uncharacteristically, did not cite casualty figures among the militants. In addition, a counter-terrorist operation targeting the militants involved in the attacks ended without producing results (Ekho Moskvy radio, October 18).

Estimates on the number of militants involved in the attacks also varied. The information on the number of militants differs as well. According to various sources, they numbered no less than eight (Gazeta.ru, October 18,) and no more than 30 (http://newsru.com/russia/18oct2008/kolonn.html). From this, one can infer that the attacks were carried out by one of the operational units of the Ingush jamaat and not the united forces of jamaats of Chechnya and Ingushetia. It is possible to conjecture that there were two groups: the first one attacked the motorcade at 9:40 a.m. in the vicinity of the sanatorium located between the villages of Galashki and Muzhichi, while the second group was no larger than half the size of the first one and was tasked with providing cover for the main group (http://gazeta.ru/news/lastnews/2008/10/18/n_1284563.shtml). This accounts for the varying estimates in the Russian media of the number of militants involved in the attacks.

In any case, the assault on the Russian military motorcade represents one of the most audacious acts by the Ingush jamaat. It is also worth noting that on the same day—October 18—an FSB officer was killed (http://newsru.com/russia/18oct2008/fsb.html) and a vehicle was blown up in the vicinity of the village of Kantyshev, in close proximity to a school (Ingushetia.org, October 18).

The militants from the Ingush front of the resistance movement are carrying out fierce attacks on the power structures within the boundaries of the Republic of Ingushetia. Not a day passes without a news report about yet another victim of attacks carried out by the armed opposition.