Terrorist onslaught

Bloody assault of terrorists on Ingushetia republic repeated the scenario of the attack on town Budennovsk 9 years ago.
At night of June 22, Monday, Chechen militants conducted big-scale onslaught on Ingushetia republic. The big unit of militants entered the city of Nazran and at 10:45 pm, and attacked the buildings of the Interior Ministry, the jail and the Staff of Nazran border guards unit. 15 hours later villages Karabulak, Sleptsovskaya and Ordzhonikidzevskaya were also attacked. In total, about 20 administrative and military objects were attacked, including the armor depot in Karabulak.

The militants tried to advance to the town of Magas where Presidential palace is located, but Ingush policemen repelled the attack.  There is no information where Ingush President Murat Zyazikov was at that time.

On June 22 Murat Zyuzikov made an address to the Ingush people and said that “the people of Ingush republic can be sure that the barbaric actions will be fought back”. At the same time, it is not clear whether the President was in the republic at that tragic night.

About 200 militants conducted the attacks. The fierce combat lasted until 3 am of June 22. The buildings of the Interior Ministry and Nazran border guard unit, the City Police and Police Special Unit were partly destroyed. Many weapons were stolen from the armor depot.

”I have a feeling that war started – dead bodies, ruins and smoke”, said the employee of Nazran NGO “Memorial” Tamerlan Akiev. “We are located near the building of Nazran border guard unit. The building was exploded, and I saw the remains of the dead. Some of the dead bodies were in military uniform, others were in camouflage. Many people were burned. Although the stores and the offices were opened in the morning, people are confused. They are still oppressed with the events of the terrible night". There were explosions in several places. The militants tried to take over  the building of the police and wanted to penetrate the jail (about 50 suspects of terrorism are detained there). The nearby building of the psychiatric clinic was destroyed.

The building of Nazran border guards unit was fired at from grenade cup discharges, as the result, the building caught fire. “An officer was killed, 3 soldiers and 1 ensign were injured, and totally 6 border guards were killed on June 22”, said spokesman for North Caucasus Border Guard Administration lieutenant colonel Sergey Livantsov. The two floors of the building were destroyed by the fire.

Spokesman for Russian special services Vadim Shibaev said that there is information that Chechen militant commander Shamil Basaev is behind the attacks. However, there is no much evidence of this so far. Meanwhile, the militants retreated, and their location is unknown.

According to Russian President’s Envoy in Southern Federal District Vladimir Yakovlev, the assault was thoroughly planned, and the militants penetrated Ingushetia one by one from North Osetia and Chechnya. However, the law-enforcement authorities of North Osetia deny militants’ being on their territory. In any case, the militants managed to concentrate themselves in big units, and then to attack Ingush law-enforcers suddenly.

Late at night there still were many policemen in the Interior Ministry building, but the militants managed to seize the building soon enough. Nezavisimay Gazeta learned about the details of the death of the Interim Interior Minister of Ingushetia 44-year-old Abubakar Kostoev.  Colonel Kostoev and his wife lived in a cottage several kilometers away from Nazran. At night the officer on duty called him and reported on the militants’ attack.  The colonel did not hesitate, he started the police car and drove to the city. 5 kilometers away from Nazran, on the crossroads with the federal highway “Caucasus”, the officer saw several motor cars damaged by gunfire. They were near the traffic police post, and Kostoev saw some people dressed in camouflage in the post building. The colonel called the police station and then started fighting against 10 militants. The policemen arrived on the spot when it was too late, colonel Kostoev died in the exchange of fire with the militants.

The Staff of Nazran border guards unit and the armor depot in Karabulak were quickly seized by militants as well, but then, after fierce combat, the militants retreated.

According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 48 people were killed, 60 injured, 10 of them are in critical condition. Most of the injured are policemen and officials of the local government, some are ordinary civilians.

Neither Russian Ministry of Defense nor Interior Ministry gave official comments. “No comments until Putin speaks”, said an Interior Ministry high-ranking official in a Nezavisimaya Gazeta interview. “The attackers were not identified, some of them can even not go into hiding, they could just throw away their weapons and become civilians again”, said the official. There is information that the former commander of the special police unit Beslam Khamkhoev was appointed Interim Interior Minister of Ingushetia.

The militants completed their operations and retreated in small groups in the woods area. The biggest group, up to 50 militants, entered village Galashki, and was encircled by Russian military soon. Russian military also checked some other villages where the militants could hide.

Maria Bondarenko, Nadezhda Popova, Andrei Riskin, Ivan Sas

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Author`s name Evgeniya Petrova