Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 67

The atmosphere in the North Caucasus remains tense. Nearly every day is marked by an act of terrorism or provocation. On April 3 in Dagestan an Mi-24 military helicopter crashed, killing its crew of three. While the military prosecutor’s office in Makhachkala is working on only one version for the crash–that safety rules were violated–it is impossible to dismiss the possibility of terrorism. The helicopter flew from the Russian military base in Buinaksk, a regular target of guerrillas. In December of last year, while munitions were being shipped by rail from Buinaksk to Budennovsk, the train was attacked and one serviceman killed (Nezavisimaya gazeta, April 6).

Meanwhile, on April 4, in the Dagestani town of Kizlyar, on the Chechen border, a large explosion took place in a cafe, killing one and wounding six others. The previous day, two policemen had been abducted from the same cafe and taken to Chechnya. In an April 6 incident, a group of OMON police special forces were fired on, again not far from the Dagestani-Chechen border. Three were killed, one wounded (NTV, RTR, April 4, 6).

Many among the Russian media are saying that the heightened activity of Chechen guerrillas is connected to the fact that a group of them recently completed their training at a camp run by the Jordanian-born rebel field commander Emir Khattab. These “graduates” are now reportedly “taking their exams” on Russian territory. Investigators are looking into a possible connection between Khattab-trained terrorists and the explosion that took place last weekend at the public reception office of the Federal Security Service in Moscow (see the Monitor, April 5).