Upsurge in Violence in Chechnya Since the Counter-Terrorism Operation’s Official End
Law-enforcement sources in Ingushetia reported today (February 12) that 20 suspected rebels have been killed and an interior ministry internal troops serviceman wounded in a battle between security forces and a group of around 30 militants in the republic’s Sunzha district that is reportedly still going on. The press service of the Federal Security Service (FSB) reported that the group of militants is subordinated to Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, www.newsru.com, February 12). Law-enforcement sources in Ingushetia reported yesterday that 10 suspected militants had been killed in the battle with security forces near the Sunzha district villages of Arshty and Datykh after a counter-terrorist operation regime was imposed in the area to eliminate members of “illegal armed formations” who had taken refuge there.
The website of the Gazeta newspaper yesterday quoted a spokesman for Ingushetia’s branch of the FSB, Ilyas Dugov, as saying that several units of FSB commandos, republican interior ministry forces and federal interior ministry internal troops had been dispatched to the Sunzha district to go after the militants. In addition, Ingushetia’s interior minister was reportedly at the scene of the special operation, which was temporarily halted last night, but resumed this morning. The entire area has reportedly been surrounded and cordoned off by security forces (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 11-12; www.newsru.com, www.gzt.ru, February 11).
As Kavkazsky Uzel reported, the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said he was ready to deploy Chechen security forces in support of the special operation in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district and ordered a tightening of the security regime along the administrative border between the two republics in order to prevent the militants involved in the fighting from escaping into Chechnya. The website also quoted a Chechen police source who said it was possible that Doku Umarov might be among the rebels involved in the current fighting in Sunzha. The source said that several of Umarov’s bodyguards had been killed in a special operation in the village of Datykh last summer and claimed that Umarov himself was wounded during that special operation but had managed to escape (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 12).
Kavkazsky Uzel noted that yesterday (February 11) marked the 300th day since the counter-terrorist operation (KTO) in Chechnya was officially ended last April. According to the website, 291 people have been killed in fighting between rebels and security forces in Chechnya during that period. That figure is two times greater than the 145 people killed during the 300 days before the lifting of the counter-terrorist operation in the republic.
Kavkasky Uzel found that 84 members of the security forces were killed and 165 wounded in the 300 days following the lifting of the KTO regime in Chechnya, compared with 45 killed and 125 wounded during 300 days before the KTO regime was lifted. The website also found an increase in the number of suicide bombing attacks: while only one of the 47 terrorist attacks carried out in 300 days before the lifting of the KTO regime was a suicide bombing, nine of the 53 terrorist attacks carried out after the lifting of the KTO regime were suicide bombings, with multiple bombers involved in two of those attacks. Security forces managed to thwart another suicide attack during the later period.
During the 300 days after the lifting of the KTO regime, 177 suspected rebels and rebel accomplices were killed and 158 were captured, nine of whom surrendered voluntarily. The number of suspected rebels killed was two times higher than the number killed in the 300 days before the KTO regime was lifted –81. At the same time, the number of civilians reported to have been killed dropped slightly: in the 300 days since the lifting of the KTO regime, 18 civilians were killed, 32 wounded and 32 abducted, while in the 300 days before the lifting of the KTO regime, 17 were killed, 15 wounded and 14 abducted (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 11).
Meanwhile, a senior police officer died in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala yesterday after his car came under attack. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on Agav Temirov’s car near an OMON special task police base in Makhachkala. The 49-year-old police lieutenant-colonel was wounded in the head and the chest and died later in the hospital. Also yesterday, FSB bomb disposal experts defused a large explosive device in the Dagestani capital. The device consisted of a large plastic canister filled with an explosive substance, bolts, screws and metal fragments (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 11).
On February 10, one person was killed when a bomb went off on railroad tracks near the capital of Dagestan, Makhachkala (Associated Press, February 11).