Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 5

Citing sources in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Interior Ministry, Izvestia on January 31 identified all the gunmen involved in the January 27 shoot-out between security forces and members of the “Yarmuk” Jamaat in Nalchik, the republic’s capital. The group’s leader, Muslim Ataev, and two other members, Ilyas Bichekuev and Buzdzhigit Atmurzaev, were killed in the fighting. All three hailed from the village of Kenden in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Elbrus district. According to the newspaper, four women died in the attack – Ataev’s wife, Sakinat Katsieva, Atmurzaev’s wife, Olesya Trunova, and Zhanista Baykazieva and Zukhra Semenova. The Chechen separatist Kavkazcenter website on January 31 reported that Olesya Trunova was a Russian convert to Islam.

Izvestia repeated earlier reports that the building had been stormed only after it was established that Ataev’s infant son, who was believed to be with the gunmen, was in fact with his grandmother in a village. Kommersant reported on January 28 that Katsieva deliberately tried to trick security forces into thinking the baby was with her in order to thwart an attack. However, Yarmuk claimed in a statement posted by Kavkazcenter on January 28 that security forces had murdered and abducted Ataev’s six-month-old daughter. The statement did not give her name, but the website posted a photograph of an infant girl. Kavkazky Uzel on January 31 cited a report that the parents of Muslim Ataev had asked the Kabardino-Balkaria prosecutor’s office for the return of the bodies of his two children – a three-month-old boy and a six-month-old girl – that were allegedly hidden on the orders of the republic’s Interior Ministry. Both the republic’s Interior Ministry and prosecutor’s office categorically deny that the children were in the apartment building, insisting they were taken out before security forces stormed it. Meanwhile, Kavkazcenter on February 1 quoted “the command of the Jamaat ‘Yarmuk'” as saying that Ataev had only a six-month-old daughter, named Leila, not a son. The group again alleged that security forces had killed his daughter and hid her body.

In its January 28 statement to Kavkazcenter, Yarmuk said it remained “battle-worthy,” planned further “missions” and continued to “hold high the banner of Jihad.” The website reported on February 1 that it had “preliminary data” that the group had already held a “shura of mujahideen” and elected a new “amir,” who was an ethnic Kabardin.