Russian police killed 12 Caucasus Emirate fighters after the terror group launched a suicide assault today on the home town of Chechnya’s controversial president.
A unit from the Caucasus Emirate, estimated at between 12 to 60 men strong, raided the village of Tsentoroi, the birthplace of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, but were repelled by police. Kadyrov claims to have led a team of commandos to Tsentoroi and directed the counterattack from the front.
“From the forest, they crept up to a house on the outskirts and began shooting,” Kadyrov wrote on his blog, RIA Novosti reported. “A few minutes later we were at the scene. Fighting erupted. The gang was surrounded and destroyed. Twelve devils were killed.”
The suicide assault team entered the village at 4:30 a.m. and opened fire on several homes. Seven of the fighters detonated their suicide vests during the fighting.
“During the clashes, 12 militants were killed,” a Russian police investigator told RIA Novosti. “Seven of them blew themselves up and it appears impossible to visually identify the gunmen. Four were fingerprinted and their identities are being established.”
Five policemen were killed and 17 more, along with seven civilians, were wounded during the early morning fighting.
Russian security officials claimed that all of the terrorists involved in the assault, except for a several fighters filming the attack, were killed.
But Kavkaz Center, the website for the Caucasus Emirate, claimed that more than 60 fighters, divided into three teams, attacked the village.
“A representatives of the Mujahideen, whose unit took part in the raid against Kadyrov’s puppets in the village of Khosi-Yurt (Tsentoroi), said to a source of the KC [Kavkaz Center] on the phone that the headquarters of the ringleader of Russian minions had been attacked by about 60 Mujahideen in three units led by commanders Mahran, Zaurbek and Abdurrahman,” according to a statement on the website.
The Caucasus Emirate claimed to have killed 15 police, destroyed several vehicles, and overrun two police checkpoints. Kavkaz Center also denied that 12 Caucasus Emirate fighters were killed, and instead claimed that only seven had died during the fighting.
The assault by the Caucasus Emirate calls into question Kadyrov’s recent claim that as few as 50 terrorists remain in Chechnya.
Today’s suicide assault in Chechnya is the latest in a string of such attacks by al Qaeda and its affiliates. Suicide assaults by heavily armed teams of fighters wearing vests have been carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and India. The November 2008 terror assault in Mumbai, India, resulted in the deaths of more than 170 people, and the attack shut down India’s financial capital for more than 60 hours.
The clash in Chechnya caps a weekend of violence in the Caucasus. Yesterday, security forces killed nine militants during clashes in Kabardino-Balkariya and five more in Dagestan. Two of those killed in Dagestan were wanted by Interpol. A police officer died of wounds suffered in the fighting in Dagestan.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has targeted the Caucasus Emirate’s top leaders during raids this year. Since February, five top commanders have been killed or captured, including two foreign leaders.
On Feb. 2, the FSB killed Mokhmad Mohamad Shabban during a raid in a mountainous region in Dagestan. Shabban, an Egyptian who is better known as Saif Islam or the Sword of Islam, was one of the founders of al Qaeda in the Caucasus.
On March 2, FSB commandos killed Said Buryatsky and five other terrorists during a raid in Ingushetia. Buryatsky was the mufti, or religious leader, for the Caucasus Emirate, and has been described as Russia’s Osama bin Laden.
On June 9, the FSB captured Emir Magas, the military commander of the Caucasus Emirate. Magas was a longtime associate of Basayev and Ibn al Khattab. One day later Russian forces killed Yasir Amarat, a wanted terrorist commander from Jordan.
And on Aug. 22, the FSB killed Emir Sayfullah, the leader of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate’s forces in Dagestan and the top judge for the terror group.
Earlier this month, Sayfullah released a statement at Kavkaz Center defending Doku Umarov, the leader of the Islamic Caucasus Emirate, after Umarov retracted his resignation. Umarov had announced his resignation in a videotape on Aug. 1, but retracted it in another videotape released days later. In addition to Sayfullah, both Emir Adam, who is the Caucasus Emirate’s governor of Ingushetia province, and the Riyad-us-Saliheen Martyrs’ Brigade have released statements in support of Umarov, in an effort to stem confusion and discord within the rank and file over the resignation and subsequent retraction. Umarov remains the most-wanted terror leader in the Caucasus.
• Kadyrov’s native village attackers eliminated, RIA Novosti
• Chechen militants killed 5 police in Kadyrov’s home village, RIA Novosti
• 12 gunmen killed in Chechnya, two law enforcers die, ITAR TASS
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