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‘Five dead’ in coordinated attacks on police in Chechnya

21 August 2018
The aftermath of the attack in Shali (Euronews /YouTube)

One police officer was killed and three more injured in Chechnya on Monday in a coordinated knife, bomb, and car attack, according to official reports. Four of the five attackers, one of who was 11 years old, were killed during the attacks, and a fifth wounded.

As reported by Russian state-news agency TASS, the Investigative Committee of Russia has opened a criminal case in regards to the incident.

The authorities initially confirmed only the first attack in the town of Shali. The website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chechnya reported that at ‘about 10:00’, two young men armed with knives entered the police station and injured two policemen, before ‘the attackers were killed by reciprocal fire’.

Telegram channel 338, which is connected with the authorities in the North Caucasus, later reported a second attack, in which an unidentified man blew himself up near a checkpoint near the village of Mesker-Yurt, in the Shali district. Apart from the bomber, who was injured but survived, no one was hurt.

Telegram channel 338 writes that the bomber and two knife attackers were all dropped off by the same car, which then continued to Grozny. According to the authorities, the driver of the car tried to activate an explosive device at a checkpoint just outside the capital, but the gas cylinder in the boot of the car failed to explode.

From there, the car headed towards the centre of Grozny, where it hit two traffic police officers. According to Telegram channel 338, after driving several hundred meters, the driver and an 11-year-old boy who was with him in the car were killed by security guards of government buildings located near the scene. Surveillance cameras show that the attackers were in a light-coloured Mercedes 190.

A source in Chechen law enforcement told OC Media that an 18-year-old resident of Shali, Magomed Musayev, who was killed in the attack on the police station, was behind the attacks, however, this has not been confirmed.

Two years ago, Musayev was detained after a well-known attack on Grozny on the night of 18 December 2016, but was not prosecuted because he was a minor. He reportedly belonged to a militant group run by Imran Datsayev, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison in May.

Chechnya’s Minister of national policy, external relations, press and information, Dzhambulat Umarov, told TASS that all the attackers in the third attack were minors: ‘The oldest of those who hit the traffic police officers by car wasn’t yet 17, and the youngest of the criminals, according to the information we’ve received, was 11 years old’.

Speaking on local television, Musayev’s father, Ramzan, disowned his son and cursed him and those who died with him.

On 22 August, a video of the Grozny attackers pledging allegiance to the Islamic State emerged in social networks.

‘Police vigilantly serving in normal mode’

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is currently performing a hajj in Saudi Arabia, wrote on his Telegram channel that the attackers wanted to prevent events in connection with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

‘The main goal was to create the appearance of the existence of some forces capable of organising armed actions and terrorist attacks. Thanks to the vigilance of the police, all these attempts were thwarted, the bandits were neutralised’, Kadyrov wrote.

According to Kadyrov, the organisers of the attack lacked ‘signs of shame or conscience’, as they ‘attract adolescents with a fragile psyche’.

‘The situation in Grozny and Chechnya is absolutely calm, stable, and there are no prerequisites for any complication. Law enforcement officers are vigilantly serving in normal mode’, he added.

The Islamic State took responsibility for the attacks in Chechnya, as newspaper Kommersant reported, referring to the information agency of the Islamic State, Amaq.

‘Disrupt any attempt at the design stage’

The Chechen authorities regularly declare that the republic has managed to completely defeat terrorism. According to Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov, this is the main achievement of his leadership.

In November last year, in an interview with Interfax news agency, Kadyrov said that Chechnya was the only region in the world where terrorism had been defeated. ‘In the fight against terrorism, we have reached a level where we can disrupt any attempt at the design stage’, he said.

A terrorist attack in Chechnya took place in May this year, when the Orthodox church in Grozny was attacked. Two policemen guarding the building were killed, and several people were wounded. All four attackers were killed by reciprocal fire.