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by Raven Healing

On the night of June 21, three towns in Ingushetia, the Russian province neighboring war-torn Chechnya, were attacked by an estimated 200 armed men. In Nazran, Karabulak and Sleptsovsk, over 90 people were killed in the raids which continued late into the night. Police stations, checkpoints and offices of military and law enforcement agencies were targeted. The rebels took over the checkpoints, then presented themselves as guards, checking the papers of all passing cars. They killed those with official or military identification. Rank-and-file military men were beaten, but not killed if they swore on a Koran to leave the agencies.

Among the dead are the Ingush Interior Minister Colonel Abubakar Koshtoev, a UN aid worker, local police officers and several civilians. According to reports on Radio Free Europe, the fighters who claimed responsibility identified themselves as "The Martyrs Brigade." The Brigade was said to be under the command of Shamil Bassayev, a notorious Chechen rebel leader responsible for numerous attacks--including the hostage-taking of a maternity ward and the infamous Nord-Ost Moscow opera house hostage siege in 2002.

One police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was taken hostage by the rebels. He claimed they spoke Ingush, not Chechen, and quoted them as saying, "We do not kill traffic policemen. We kill investigators, prosecutors and judges who abduct and kill Ingush people and who sold themselves to the Russian secret services." This apparently references recent reports of abductions and murders of Ingush and ethnic Chechens in Ingushetia by "death squads."

According to the human rights group Memorial, no help from federal Russian forces arrived during the attack, which lasted four hours. The federal units were at the border of Ingushetia and Ossetia by 2 AM, an hour before the attacks finished. However, the units remained there, just a five-minute drive from Nazran, until dawn--leading to local speculation that Russian authorities allowed the attack to happen to justify reprisals.

Two days after the attacks, mass detainments of Chechen refugees were carried out by Russian authorities on refugee settlements in Ingushetia. On June 23, 50 men were taken from the camp in Altievo. Both men and women at the camp were beaten during the operation. The next day, gas and electricity to the camp were cut off. The families were ordered to return to Chechnya, and at least 70 families fled that day.

According to reports, women were "abused" and objects of value were stolen from the refugees during the operations. On June 25, some of the detainees, severely beaten, were returned to their families. Also on the 25th, mop-up operations began in Nazran and Chechen refugees fled en masse to Chechnya.


Special to WORLD WAR 3 REPORT, July 7, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Reprinting permissible with attribution.