Rebels stage new invasion of Dagestan
Monday 06 September 1999
The invaders, reported to number several hundred, seized villages yesterday while the authorities were trying to rescue survivors from a bomb blast that destroyed a block of Russian army flats in the town of Buinaksk, Dagestan's second city, on Saturday night.
Vladimir Kolesnikov, Russia's first deputy interior minister, linked the bombing to the incursion. Russians, fearing that their sons could be sucked into a war as bloody as the 1994-1996 conflict between Russia and Chechnya, saw the developments as evidence that the army had been premature in declaring victory over the Islamic fundamentalists.
The Buinaksk bomb, planted in a truck outside the building, killed 22 people and injured100. Yesterday, relatives searched for victims who might be trapped under rubble. Another bomb, found near the hospital in Buinaksk, was defused.
The bombed flats housed officers from the 156th Brigade and their families. Many of the victims were women and children. "Curse you, damn you all," a woman wailed. "We women will join the fight against you [invaders from Chechnya]."
As when they invaded Dagestan last month, occupying Botlikh district, the Chechens were believed to be led by the warlord Shamil Basayev, who operates with Khattab, a fighter of Jordanian or Saudi Arabian origin, who yesterday announced: "The Muslims in the Caucasus have the forces to solve any issue by military means. We will help the mujahedin, as Pakistan helped Afghanistan."
Russia objects to southern parts of the federation being compared to Afghanistan under Soviet occupation and has warned Muslim states not to interfere in its internal affairs.
Faster than predicted and with the relatively light loss of 60 conscripts, the Russians forced the Chechens out of Botlikh district last month. The army got a boost, as did Russia's new Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin. But the Defence Minister, Igor Sergeyev, said the Chechens could resort to terrorism. The bombing of a Moscow shopping mall last week is still being investigated. While anarchists disgusted with consumerism are among the suspects, police have not ruled out a Caucasus link.
Within days of the Chechens being expelled from Botlikh, Russian forces were again in action, trying to disarm the Wahabbites, a sect that had welcomed the invaders and whorefuse to recognise Russia's jurisdiction. The Russians found it harder than expected to winkle out the fundamentalists. The Buinaksk bombing and the new Chechen incursion appear to be in support of the Wahabbite rebellion.
Caucasus experts fear a major war on the border of the Christian and Muslim worlds might be starting. Russia refuses to grant formal independence to Chechnya lest it set a precedent that could lead to the federation crumbling the way the Soviet empire fell to pieces.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...