A series of rebel attacks were reported this past week in Dagestan, graphically illustrating that the republic remains the epicenter of insurgent activity in the North Caucasus.
In Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala today (July 22), gunmen targeted Col. Akhmed Bataliev, the head of the republic’s center for fighting extremism. Itar-Tass quoted a source in the republic’s interior ministry as saying that the gunmen, riding in a VAZ-21014 with a sign on it indicating it was a taxi, drove up to a convoy consisting of Bataliev’s jeep and a car that was accompanying it and fired several machine gun bursts. Bataliev was saved by the fact that his jeep was armored, but two of his bodyguards were shot and died on the spot.
Yesterday (July 21) a shootout was reported between law-enforcement personnel and suspected militants near the 730th kilometer of the Kavkaz federal highway near the city of Khasavyurt. The incident took place when officers of the Dagestani branches of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and interior ministry tried to stop a car without license plates and those inside opened fire. The three men in the car were killed by return fire. One of those killed was a resident of the village of Botashyurt while another was from the village of Bairamaul, both of which are located in the Khasavyurt district. Police seized automatic rifles, ammunition and several grenades from the car. The three slain men were later identified as Adil Chonaev, Yunus Magomedov and Marat Abdukhanov, all three of them Khasavyurt district residents. RIA Novosti quoted a source in the National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAK) as saying they belonged to the “Khasavyurt sabotage-terrorist group” which is suspected of attacks on law-enforcement personnel, murders and bombings (www.newsru.com, www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, July 22).
Also on July 21, three suspected rebels were killed during a special operation near the Tarki-Tau Mountain outside Makhachkala. A fourth suspected rebel was captured and one law-enforcement was wounded during the operation, which was conducted by FSB commandos along with personnel from Dagestan’s OMON special task police unit and other Dagestani interior ministry forces. According to the NAK, the dead rebels were members of the so-called “Kaspiisk gang,” including its leader, 22-year-old Elshat Aliev, and another member, 25-year-old Renat Soltanov. Both men were natives of Makhachkala. The targeted men were suspected of blowing up a police patrol car on July 18, as well as involvement in the murders of Shamil Murtuzaliev, deputy commander of the Dagestani OMON special task police unit, on July 14, and Gadzhi Alibegov, an investigator with the Dagestani branch of the Investigative Committee, on June 21. The NAK said the slain suspected rebels were found with automatic rifles, pistols, grenades and IED components (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, July 21-22).
In yet another incident on July 21, an improvised explosive device detonated in the path of a car in which police officers and investigators were traveling from the village of Shapikh to the village of Kidero in Dagestan’s Tsuntinsky district. No one was hurt in the incident. On July 19, unidentified gunmen drove into Shapikh in two cars and opened fire, killing one village resident and wounding another. A source in Dagestan’s Investigative Committee claimed the attackers were rebels. Meanwhile, law-enforcement personnel on July 21 found the body of a man they said was member of the “illegal armed formations” – that is, the rebels – on the outskirts of the Tsuntinsky district village of Garbutl (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, July 19, 21).
On July 19, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car in which the head of a department of the Dagestani republican prosecutor’s office was traveling in Makhachkala. The prosecutor’s office employee, Natalya Mamedkerimova, was wounded in the arm and hospitalized (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, July 19).
On July 18, an IED detonated on the path a police car in the Dagestani city of Kaspiisk, killing one policeman and wounding four others. One of the wounded police officers later died in the hospital. The press service of Dagestan’s interior ministry identified the two slain policemen as 29 year-old Bagabudin Mamalov and 26-year-old Azaddin Arazov (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, July 18).
Also on July 18, an unidentified attacker shot up the home of a resident of the village of Mutsalaul in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district who was allegedly involved in the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages. The Kavkazsky Uzel website quoted another resident of the village as saying that the Mutsalaul Jamaat had repeatedly told the woman to stop selling alcohol, but she had ignored the rebels. According to the resident, a grenade was hurled into the woman’s yard a month ago, and she had agreed to stop selling alcoholic beverages following the July 18 shooting incident (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, July 18).