Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 43

Kavkazky Uzel reported on November 16 that a Russian serviceman was killed in the mountainous Vedeno district when rebels fired on an army unit that was conducting a reconnaissance mission. The unit returned fire, but the attackers escaped into a wooded area. Citing an anonymous “local official,” Agence France-Presse reported on November 15 that five Russian soldiers and four policemen, including two Chechens, had been killed in Chechnya over the preceding 24 hours. According to the news agency, four soldiers were killed and six were wounded in 18 separate rebel attacks against Russian positions, while another serviceman was killed when an explosion hit a military truck. Two Russian policemen were killed when rebels opened fire on their jeep in the southeastern Shali region, while the bodies of two Chechen policemen were found on the morning of November 15 in a suburb of Grozny. The official told the news agency that the Chechen police had disappeared the day before and their bodies bore signs of torture.

Interfax reported on November 13 that two members of an OMON police special unit from Rostov Oblast had been killed in Chechnya’s Sunzhensky district the previous day. The two servicemen, identified as Lieutenant Yevgeny Shmagrai and Warrant Officer Vitaly Shirokov, died when a radio-controlled explosive device was detonated near the armored personnel carrier in which they were traveling near the village of Assinovskaya. Five OMON servicemen were wounded in the bombing.

The Chechen Interior Ministry reported on November 15 that its personnel had captured a member of the “Grozny Wahhabi Jamaat” and seized a PZRK “Igla” surface-to-air missile from his apartment. NTV reported that the arrested rebel, Aslambek Temtiev, had passed through a rebel training camp near the village of Serzhen-Yurt and was a student of the late rebel field commander Khattab in making explosives. According to Kommersant, Temtiev is suspected of involvement in the June 2004 rebel raid on law enforcement and government installations in Ingushetia and the April 2003 murder of a policeman in Grozny. The newspaper reported that fighters of the Grozny Wahhabi Jamaat had bought eight Iglas in Georgia in 2001. Chechen rebels used portable surface-to-air missiles to bring down four federal helicopters during 2001-2002, including an Mi-8 carrying several senior military officials and an Mi-26 ferrying servicemen. Nine people died in the downing of the Mi-8, 116 in the downing of the Mi-26.

The public relations department of the Chechen branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) reported on November 14 that an FSB unit and soldiers from the Combined Group of Forces in North Caucasus had destroyed a “rebel gang” in the village of Avtury. Scouts discovered a rebel base near the village, and the ensuing operation to destroy it “inflicted serious casualties on the rebels who fled carrying their dead and wounded,” Interfax reported. According to the news agency, the bodies of one of those killed, which the rebels tried to carry away, “turned out to be that of an Arab mercenary” whose identity was established but was being withheld in the interests of the investigation. Interfax quoted unnamed sources as saying that that Arab’s personal effects included “extremist leaflets in Arabic, an explosives manual and lists of rebel field commanders of various ranks with details of their units” locations. It also reported that a “thoroughly-concealed base” was discovered in the area, which was capable of housing up to 25 people in winter conditions and was stocked with large quantities of food, medicines, communications equipment, munitions and potable water.