More unrest in Chechnya

With news within the last 24 hours of three explosions in Grozny, an armed clash with insurgents and an attack on police by insurgents in a fifth Chechen district, Nozhai-Yurtovsky, it looks as if the Chechen conflict may be intensifying once again. In fact, the process of activation appears to have begun even earlier – before the official announcement of the ending of counter-terrorist operations (CTO) in the republic. Jamestown reports that

The news of renewed counter-insurgency activities by both local and federal authorities in Chechnya came amid reports that three Russian Defense Ministry contract servicemen were killed in the village of Bamut in Chechnya’s Achkhoi-Martan district on April 21. Interfax on April 22 quoted a source in the headquarters of the Russian combined federal forces in the North Caucasus as saying that the three servicemen, a sergeant and two privates, were traveling in a tank truck carrying drinking water when unidentified gunmen fired at them, apparently from an abandoned house on the outskirts of the village. The source said that a military patrol arrived at the scene soon after the incident, but that the gunmen had already fled. Reuters on April 22 quoted a spokesman for the Russian security forces in Chechnya as saying that after the three soldiers were shot and killed, their weapons were stolen.

The commentator Yulia Latynina reported on Ekho Moskvy radio on April 18 that on the eve of the announcement of the cancellation of the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya, two members of the Vympel special operations unit of the Federal Security Service (FSB), including a high-ranking officer, had been killed in separate explosions in Chechnya. According to Latynina, the federal authorities had not reported the deaths of the Vympel personnel so as not to ruin the celebrations marking the end of the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya or possibly delay an announcement that the operation was over. Newsru.com reported on April 21 that the FSB had confirmed the death of one Vympel member in Chechnya and that the slain officer may have been a colonel.

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