Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 133

A number of terrorist attacks took place in southern Russian over the weekend. Two policemen were killed and a local inhabitant wounded on July 8 when a bomb went off in Shelkovskaya, northern Chechnya. There were also bomb blasts in Rostov-on-Don and in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia. The explosion in Rostov-on-Don killed one person and wounded three. At least five people were killed in Vladikavkaz blast, which took place in the same city market where another terrorist bombing occurred on March 19 of this year. That earlier blast killed fifty-four people (Russian agencies, July 9). It is not yet known whether the explosions in Rostov-on-Don and Vladikavkaz were connected. Investigators are not ruling out that Chechen terrorists were involved, but there is no hard proof of a Chechnya connection thus far. It is also possible that both terrorist attacks were a result of conflicts between criminal gangs. According to yet another theory, the Vladikavkaz blast may have been the result of a religious conflict. On July 9, most residents of North Ossetia celebrated the day of St. Khetag, who, according to legend, was persecuted for converting to Christianity. North Ossetia is some 70 percent Christian and 30 percent Muslim (Radio Ekho Moskvy, Russian agencies, July 9).

Meanwhile, the atmosphere in Chechnya remained tense, and the Russian military warned residents of Urus-Martan that new terrorist attacks were possible. Security was tightened at checkpoints in the area as the flow of refugees from Chechnya into the neighboring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan increased. Hundreds of people have fled Chechnya, apparently in response to a statement late last week by Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, who warned that Chechen rebel units were preparing to retake Djohar [Grozny], the Chechen capital, and the city of Gudermes. Residents of Chechnya apparently fear that full-scale fighting is about to break out once again, and the Russian military is reportedly worried that the scenario of the summer of 1996, when rebels drove Russian forces out of the Chechen capital, could be repeated (Radio Liberty, NTV, July 9). Meanwhile, the bodies of two Russian soldiers were discovered Sunday on the outskirts of the Chechen capital. They were apparently killed by rebels, who stole their weapons (Associated Press, July 9).