Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 46

An unnamed local government official told Agence France-Presse on December 5 that three Russian soldiers had been killed in recent fighting in Chechnya. The official said that one soldier died and another five were injured in a total of 13 attacks by separatist fighters on Russian military positions over a 24-hour period. Two soldiers were killed and another two injured when their convoy came under fire near the village of Itum-Kale in southern Chechnya on December 3, while three separatist fighters were killed and two pro-Moscow police officers injured during a raid by Russian forces near Biltoi-Yurt in eastern Chechnya, the official said.

Interfax reported on December 6 that two federal Interior Ministry troops were killed and three injured in an explosion near the Vedeno district village of Dargo on December 5. Citing military and police sources, the news agency reported that the blast took place when a roadside bomb was detonated as a GAZ-66 truck carrying six servicemen drove past. Interfax also reported that a federal serviceman was wounded in the legs under unclear circumstances in the Achkoi-Martan district. Itar-Tass reported on December 5 that three rebels who were planning terrorist attacks were killed in the Gudermes district. Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov told the news agency that security forces acting on a tip had blockaded the three rebels in a private house in the village of Beltoi-Yurt. The rebels refused to surrender, opened fire, and tried to escape, but were killed in the ensuing shootout. According to Alkhanov, three assault rifles, several plastic barrels containing saltpeter, and large quantities of ammunition, hand grenades, and uniforms were discovered in and around the house.

Interfax reported on December 7 that a 10-year-old boy in Grozny received multiple shrapnel wounds when a toy he found on the street exploded. A police source told the news agency that the boy was in serious condition. Interfax reported that police have recorded numerous incidents in which children have been injured as a result of “explosive devices manufactured in the form of pocket flashlights and toys.” The news agency reported the previous day that a man, a woman and a two-year-old child received multiple shrapnel wounds following an explosion of an unidentified device in a private house in the Sunzhensky district village of Sernovodskaya.

Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office in Russia, Karel de Roy, told Interfax on December 6 that the number of incidents of people being harmed by landmines and shells in Chechnya has decreased, but the problem is still a serious threat to Chechen citizens, the news agency reported on December 7. “In 2003, 41 incidents with landmines occurred in Chechnya, and the number decreased to seven in 2005,” de Roy said. “But the danger of landmines and unexploded shells continues to affect the everyday life of Chechen children.” UNICEF, with the support of the European Commission and the Chechen government, has decreased the number of landmine incidents by 82 percent. Over the period of 1995 to November 2005, 3,033 cases of citizens being harmed by landmines and unexploded shells were registered in Chechnya. “As a result of these incidents, 692 people were killed, 2,341 were injured,” de Roy said, noting that the figures include 126 children killed and 613 injured.