Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 126

Another terrorist bombing took place in the North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz on June 28. An antipersonnel mine was detonated at the city’s railway station, and eleven people were wounded. Investigators are certain that the bombing was the work of Chechen rebel field commander Khattab (Kommersant, June 29). On March 19 of this year, a bomb was detonated in Vladikavkaz’s main outdoor market. More than sixty were killed in that attack, and 150 wounded. On May 16, three explosions took place at a military housing complex on the outskirts of Vladikavkaz. Fifteen people were injured, and one later died in the attack, in which eighteen apartments were destroyed and sixty heavily damaged.

While “Kommersant” has reported that the latest attack was the work of Khattab, the newspaper “Izvestia” doubts this is so. The paper asked why there have been no comments on the arrest of officers from the 58th army based in Vladikavkaz, who were caught with dozens of kilograms of explosives. It also asked why the 58th army’s commanders and the heads of the North Caucasus Military district reacted so harshly to indications that those officers arrested with explosives belonged to the GRU–military intelligence (Izvestia, June 29).

However, if the Khattab link to the June 28 bombing turns out to be true, then it is likely it was a response to recent actions by the Russian authorities. Since the end of May, Russian helicopters have on several occasions carried out heavy rocket attacks against units of Khattab’s fighters which were trying to penetrate Dagestani territory. Khattab’s fighters have already carried out retaliatory attacks in Stavropol, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria, in which local policemen were killed. Last week, during Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin’s visit to Dagestan, a mine was discovered on a road used by journalists covering the visit. The mine was defused. Following the June 28 blast in Vladikavkaz, Stepashin promised to take “exhaustive measures” to end terrorism coming from Chechnya. It should be noted, however, that Stepashin has made such promises after each terrorist act, but has not followed through on them (Kommersant, June 29).