The Dagestani branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) reported on September 17 that it had killed ten militants in an operation that day. According to the Moscow Times, the Dagestani FSB said in a statement that a Gazel minivan that was carrying the insurgents, along with arms and explosives, was ambushed on a road near Russia’s border with Azerbaijan. The FSB commandos reportedly fired several rocket-propelled grenades into the minibus and sprayed the rebels with automatic gunfire. According to the FSB statement, two of its officers were wounded in the fighting, one of whom died later in a hospital.
Kommersant reported on September 18 that the group of militants killed in the operation consisted of field commander Zakir Novruzov and nine of his fighters. The newspaper reported that, according to the FSB, the group had been planning to seize a middle school in the Suleiman Stalsky district of Dagestan. Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on September 18 that a large quantity of ammunition, seven automatic rifles, explosive devices, a large quantity of food supplies and religious literature were found in the militants’ minivan.
Newsru.com reported on September 18 quoting the FSB as saying that five of the dead militants were active members of rebel groups who were on the federal wanted list, while the other five were rebel “accomplices.” As the Moscow Times noted on September 18, the FSB operation on September 17 followed two recent crackdowns by security services on the same Islamist rebel network, which is active in southern Dagestan. Three policeman and five militants, including Ilgar Malachiev, whom the Chechen rebel leadership had appointed last fall as commander of Dagestan’s insurgents, were killed in a clash on September 7. The following day, three policemen were killed in a shootout with members of Malachiev’s group whom law enforcers attempted to encircle near the village of Sirtych (North Caucasus Weekly, September 11).
Nezavisimaya Gazeta on September 18 quoted a Dagestani FSB source as saying: “In general, one can state that the activities of the bandit groups in southern Dagestan have been neutralized.” However, the newspaper interpreted the FSB operations in southern Dagestan as evidence that violence is on the rise in southern Dagestan, which was the republic’s most peaceful area before the start of this year. Nezavisimaya Gazeta added that experts predict southern Dagestan could become a new “hotbed” in coming months.
Meanwhile, RIA Novosti reported on September 18 that five police officers were injured in Dagestan after gunmen opened fire on their police post overnight.