There was contradictory information about a shootout that reportedly took place in the Chechen capital on the afternoon of July 17. The Kavkazky Uzel website reported that a shootout between “representatives of Chechen power structures” in Grozny had killed one person and wounded two, one of them a woman. The dead man was identified as Alikhan Bisashaev, a resident of the village of Noiber in Chechnya’s Naursky district. Yet, Kavkazky Uzel also quoted Chechnya’s chief prosecutor, Valery Kuznetsov, as saying that two people had been killed and one wounded in the shootout. Kuznetsov reported that according to preliminary information, unknown armed people had carried out an attack on two civilians. “One of those killed was an employee of the Muslim Spiritual Board for Chechnya, and the second—a civilian—was his brother,” Kuznetsov told RIA Novosti. Earlier, a Chechen law-enforcement source had told Kavkazky Uzel that the two men shot in the incident were Interior Ministry employees. The website quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the attackers were in a red jeep and three Zhiguli cars.
In a July 17 report, apparently regarding the same incident, Reuters said that gunmen had killed two policemen in the center of the Chechen capital. The news agency called the incident “a blatant daylight attack, jerking Grozny out of the relative peace of the last few months.” Reuters quoted witnesses as saying that the attackers sprayed the two men with machine-gun fire as they came out of a building on Victory Avenue in Grozny. One eyewitness said the targeted men fired back and wounded one of the attackers and that a woman was also injured in the shootout. “The two bodies lay on their backs on the central Victory Avenue, one of them with obvious bullet holes in his leg and chest, before being gathered up and loaded into a car,” Reuters reported. “A Stechkin pistol—a type only issued to special forces—lay on the ground between them.” The news agency quoted a policeman at the scene as saying that an official police identity card had been found in the pocket of one of the dead men and quoted passers-by as saying that the dead men were guards of the head of Chechnya’s Kurchaloi region. Reuters also quoted an eyewitness, Umar Salamov, from the village of Samashki, as saying, “The shoot-out today destroyed all my illusions about peace. People had become unaccustomed to the shooting and they were just shocked. I don’t have words, I am as shocked as everyone else.”
Meanwhile, the Nazran-based Council of Non-Governmental Organizations reported on July 18 that the imam of the Gudermes mosque was killed on July 17 when a group of armed people in camouflage attacked him in central Grozny. According to the council’s website, Livechechnya.org, the assailants wounded the imam’s brother and killed a woman who was passing by, and two of the attackers were wounded when the victims returned fire. While this incident would appear to be the same one reported by Kavkazky Uzel and Reuters, there is no way to confirm this and it remains difficult to say what really happened, given that the identity of the victims differs in the various reports.