Chechen teens launch ‘Isis’ attacks
So-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a series of coordinated teenage attacks across Chechnya yesterday (Monday) that left four militants dead and injured several police officers, raising fears of more violence in the repressive Russian republic.
The strikes began in the Shali district of the largely Muslim region when teens armed with knives ran into a police station.
The police shot them dead. The state media said one of the officers died but the police denied the claim.
Later militants shot at the police in Grozny and the authorities said they also thwarted an attempted suicide bombing in Mesker-Yurt. The police again denied that an officer had been killed.
Later in Grozny, a Mercedes crashed into a security checkpoint, apparently injuring three police officers. The attackers also threw an explosive at the police, but it failed to explode. The 17-year-old driver and an 11-year-old passenger were killed by police fire, the authorities said.
The driver was named as Ali Akhmatkhanov, the younger brother of Khizir Akhmatkhanov, a militant who was jailed over a terror attack in Chechnya in 2001. The police said the oldest attacker yesterday was 17.
Isis claimed responsibly for the attacks, the Site monitoring group said, quoting the group’s propaganda agency, Amaq.
“Fighters from the Islamic State attacked Chechen police officers and elements in Grozny and Shali in Mesker-Yurt,” Amaq announced.
The republic’s dictatorial president, Ramzan Kadyrov, said the attacks were part of a plot to disrupt the Eid al-Adha holiday, saying Islamic State had “no support” in Chechnya and was not involved.
“The bandits have been neutralised,” Kadyrov said. “The situation in Grozny and Chechnya is absolutely calm.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has relied on the strongman Kadyrov to stabilise Chechnya after two separatist wars in the 1990s and has provided generous subsidies to help rebuild the republic.
The last major terrorist attack in Chechnya was in December 2014, when militants seized a publishing house and a school in Grozny. In heavy gun battle, 14 Chechen police officers died as well as 11 attackers. The incident was claimed by an Islamist group.
The 41-year-old former separatist fighter who switched sides in 2000 has ruled Chechnya since 2004.
International human rights groups accuse Kadyrov of rampant rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings by his heavy-handed security forces.
This year three people were killed when Islamists opened fire at worshippers at a Russian Orthodox church in Chechnya and in December six Russian troops were killed in an attack on a base in Grozny. Islamic State also claimed responsibility.
Then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev with the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, during a 2010 visit. Picture credit: Kremlin