View Full Version : Militant attacks and gunbattles in Caucasus violence

09-12-2009, 07:13 PM
Russian officials: 7 die in Caucasus violence

GROZNY, Russia (AP) -- Militant attacks and gunbattles across Russia's violence-plagued North Caucasus left seven people dead Saturday, including the second suicide bomber to strike in less than 24 hours, law enforcement and emergency officials said.

The bomber blew himself up after approaching police on patrol near a school in Grozny, the capital of the war-scarred Chechnya province, said Marat Prokopenkov, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry in southern Russia. He said three police were wounded, two severely.

The provinces along the Caucasus Mountain ridge that marks Russia's southern border have suffered a surge in suicide bombings and other attacks in recent months. The spike in violence is shaking the Kremlin's grip on the heavily Muslim region nearly a decade after large-scale fighting ended in the second of two devastating wars against separatist rebels in Chechnya.

Many of the attacks have occurred in Chechnya, undermining Moscow-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's claims to have brought peace. Kadyrov's critics accuse his security forces of rights abuses, but the Kremlin relies on him to keep a lid on separatist sentiment and keep the violence from spreading deeper into Russia.

Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said the police were trying to detain the suicide attacker when he set off his explosives.

In a separate incident Saturday in Chechnya, police killed an alleged militant wanted for attacks on law enforcement officers, the Interior Ministry said.

In Dagestan, east of Chechnya, security forces besieged a home early Saturday and killed three alleged militants and one of their wives after they refused to surrender, law enforcement authorities said.

In Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya to the west, gunmen shot and killed a police investigator outside his home in the city of Nazran on Saturday, according to provincial Interior Ministry spokeswoman Madina Khadziyeva. Law enforcement officers and government officials are targeted in most attacks in the North Caucasus.

On Friday, a suicide bomb blast destroyed a traffic police post near Nazran. Khadziyeva said Saturday that one civilian was killed in that blast and four police and security officers were wounded.

The surge of violence included a suicide attack that killed at least 25 people at a police station in Ingushetia last month and another that nearly killed Ingushetia's president.

In July, Natalya Estemirova, a human rights activist who exposed rights abuses in the North Caucasus, was abducted outside her home in Chechnya and found dead in Ingushetia.