posted on Jun, 22 2004 @ 12:37 AM
Looks like the Chechen region is getting ready t flare up again...
BC-Russia-Attack Bjt 11thLd-Writethru 06-22 1040 BC-Russia-Attack, Bjt, 11th Ld-Writethru,1050
Assailants attack police headquarters, border guards' posts in Russian region adjacent to Chechnya
Eds: AMs. UPDATES with fireman's description of fighting, corpses in streets, CORRECTS source on dead prosecutors to ITAR-Tass sted Interfax in graf
By YURI BAGROV
Associated Press Writer
CHERMEN, Russia (AP) -- Heavily armed militants launched overnight attacks against police buildings, border guard stations and other government
offices in Ingushetia, a Russian region bordering Chechnya, killing at least 22 people including three high-ranking regional officials, officials said
The fighters seized the Interior Ministry in Nazran, the largest city in Ingushetia, and attacked the border guards' headquarters there as well as
in two villages near the border with Chechnya shortly before midnight Monday, regional emergency officials said.
The Ingush medical center said early Tuesday that 59 wounded people had been hospitalized and 16 of them had died. The ITAR-Tass news agency,
citing Ingush law enforcement officials, said five of the dead were policemen; the border guards' command said one of their soldiers had been killed
and four wounded.
Witnesses reported at least six more people dead in an attack on a border guards' post on the outskirts of Nazran, and a firefighter who would
reveal only his first name, Aslan, said he had seen more than 10 corpses on the streets of Nazran.
"There are a lot of casualties, both from the law enforcement side and among civilians," the Interfax news agency quoted Ingush President Murat
Zyazikov as saying.
An official from the Ingush Interior Ministry said it was not immediately clear who the attackers were, but said some of them were shouting
"Allahu akhbar" -- a frequent rallying cry of Chechnya's separatist rebels as their insurgency increasingly comes under the influence of radical
Ingush police estimated that up to 100 militants, armed with grenade and rocket-launchers, were involved in the assaults. The attacks sent the
sounds of gunfire booming across Nazran and other settlements for most of the night.
"Wherever we were, there were armed people, some in uniform, some not, and you didn't know whose side they were on," Aslan said.
Thousands of Russian anti-terrorist special forces officers and servicemen headed into Nazran, through the border village of Chermen in neighboring
North Ossetia, in a long column of armored personnel carriers and army trucks shortly after dawn Tuesday. Inside the city, firefighters fought blazes
at the Interior Ministry and its weapons storehouse, as residents cowered in their homes.
Fighting from the nearly 5-year-old Chechen war -- the second war in a decade -- has occasionally spilled into Ingushetia, highlighting the Russian
military's ineffectiveness against the rebels despite having heavier weapons and far superior manpower.
The last major incursion was in October 2002, when a band of fighters attacked Russian forces well inside the republic near the village of
Galashki, killing 17 servicemen.
In an interview excerpted on Radio Liberty last week, Chechnya's separatist president Aslan Maskhadov said that rebels were preparing to undertake
"We are planning to change tactics. Before, we concentrated our efforts on acts of sabotage, but soon we are planing to start active military
actions," he said.
A three-man crew from Russia's NTV television came upon some of the presumed attackers, wearing masks and speaking accented Russian, at a border
crossing as the crew tried to enter Nazran from North Ossetia.
"Out of the dark, a voice says 'Stop, put your hands on the hood,' said NTV correspondent Maxim Berezin. "A man carrying an automatic weapon
came up. 'Who are you?' 'We're from NTV.' He took a few steps back, as if to shoot us.
"Then he said, 'Say that we are the Martyrs Brigade,' I don't remember of whom, Abu, Alyua, I don't remember what he said. 'We have shot
everyone here. Go and announce that."'
Berezin saw the bodies of at least six men in camouflage -- the uniform of security service members -- lying outside a minivan. Nearby stood a
police car, its windows shot out.
There was heavy fighting in Karabulak, where the militants attacked a border guard and customs post and a police station, and the assailants seized
a police checkpoint in the village of Yandare, Ingush emergency officials said.
Acting Ingush Interior Minister Abukar Kostoyev was wounded in the first minutes of the fighting in Nazran and was taken to Vladikavkaz in North
Ossetia, where he died, the Ingush Interior Ministry official said.
Ingush emergency officials said that the health minister and a deputy interior minister of Ingushetia had also been killed in the fighting in
Nazran, while ITAR-Tass said Nazran city prosecutor Mukharbek Buzurtanov and Nazran district prosecutor Bilan Oziyev had died, as well.
Police at the Chermen checkpoint on the North Ossetian border said that a 10-vehicle Russian military convoy had been ambushed en route to Nazran,
about 11/2 miles away. Three vehicles from the column were later seen returning to Vladikavkaz, the North Ossetian capital, carrying an unknown number
As dawn broke Tuesday, there was still sporadic shooting in Nazran and Karabulak, but the fighters were stealing away. Alleged militants stole some
Nazran residents' cars to make a getaway, and people were hiding in their houses, said a resident who identified himself only by his first name,
Although Chechnya is a largely Muslim region in overwhelmingly Christian Russia, the first of Chechnya's two wars was an essentially secular
conflict. However, after Russian troops pulled out when Chechen rebels fought them to a standstill, the separatists increasingly took on a
specifically Islamic mantle.
The attacks in Ingushetia came as Russian and Moscow-backed Chechen officials prepared for an August election to replace Kremlin-backed Chechen
President Akhmad Kadyrov, who was killed in a bomb attack last month. The Kremlin has put forward its candidate, Chechen Interior Minister Alu
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
APTV 06-22-04 0058EDT
Muslim extremist are going to flare up here and i think the Russians are going to crack down BIG time very soon,
didnt Putin say after the twerrorists blew up the head of that province just recently that conflict was inevitable?