On August 29, just days after announcing victory in a campaign to drive Chechen-led Islamist guerrillas out of villages in Dagestan, Russian artillery and aircraft hit separatist forces in other parts of the republic. A Russian Interior Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying that Russian forces were pounding the guerillas, who were forced out of the villages of Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi, in the Buinaksk district, and chased into the mountains. The villages were Islamic fundamentalist strongholds which had essentially declared independence from the republic’s government. The spokesman said four Russian soldiers had been killed and fourteen wounded in the renewed fighting.
Among those wounded was Nadir Khachilaev, a State Duma deputy and leader of the republic’s Laks minority, who has been on Moscow’s most wanted list since allegedly launching an armed rebellion against the Dagestani authorities in Makhachkala, the republic’s capital, last May. Khachilaev reportedly fell out with Chechen field commanders Shamil Basaev and Khattab, who have led the rebel forces in Dagestan, after refusing to donate arms to the invading Islamist radicals (Moscow Times, August 30; Russian agencies, August 29).
GEORGIA FORCED TO PROLONG RUSSIAN TROOPS’ MANDATE IN ABKHAZIA.