Chechen Terror Comes to Ossetia

The Moscow Times reports:

A female suicide bomber blew herself up near a busy downtown market in North Ossetia’s capital, Vladikavkaz, on Thursday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 40 others, authorities said. The bombing is the first terrorist attack targeting civilians since Dmitry Medvedev assumed the presidency six months ago and the first to involve a female suicide bomber since the 2004 school attack in Beslan, which is also in North Ossetia.

No one claimed immediate responsibility for Thursday’s blast. Security analysts said it bore the hallmarks of an attack by Chechen extremists.

Medvedev ordered the Federal Security Service and the Investigative Committee to carry out a thorough investigation, the Kremlin said.

The suicide bomber blew herself up as passengers were getting out of a minibus near Vladikavkaz’s main market at around 2:30 p.m., investigators said.

“The head of a woman, of the suspected suicide bomber, was found at the site of the explosion,” North Ossetian leader Taimuraz Mamsurov said, Interfax reported.

Mamsurov said the dead included five women, four men and a 15-year-old girl.

Television footage showed two badly damaged white minibuses parked near a market pavilion and what appeared to be charred human remains beside them.

A senior local prosecutor, Chermen Zangiyev, said the bomb had exploded at waist level outside one of the minibuses and that it had contained the equivalent to at least 300 grams of dynamite.

“No doubt it was a terrorist attack because bomb parts were found at the site,” Zangiyev told journalists in Vladikavkaz.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has taken the investigation into the blast under his personal control, his spokeswoman Marina Gridneva said.

North Ossetian authorities declared Saturday as a day of mourning.

Using female suicide bombers was one of the more horrific tactics developed by Chechen Islamic extremists during the second war in Chechnya. Nicknamed “black widows” by the media, they participated in the biggest terrorist attacks of the past decade, including the seizure of the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow in October 2002 and the downing of two passenger jets and a bombing outside a Moscow metro station in August 2004.

A group of female suicide bombers also participated in the most horrendous attack by Chechen extremists, the Sept. 1 to 3, 2004, seizure of the crowded school in Beslan.

“There is no panic here because people are used to such events by now,” Ella Kesayeva, head of the Voice of Beslan group, said by telephone from Beslan. But “we feel fear for our families and bitterness because we know there will be no reaction from the authorities. There will only be tears and grief.”

No suicide bombings occurred after Beslan until this August, a lull that security experts linked to the departure of foreign Islamic extremists from the Caucasus to other fronts in their global jihad, mainly Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Aug. 29, two men drove a truck loaded with explosives through the fence of an Interior Ministry base in Chechnya, killing one officer and wounding 11. A month later, a male suicide bomber tried to kill Ingush Interior Minister Musa Medov.

No extremist group had claimed responsibility for Thursday’s blast by late evening on the Kavkaz Center rebel web site.

Still, judging by the tactics, the attack is likely to have been carried out by one of them, rather than being a new chapter in simmering rivalries between local clans, a typical problem in most southern republics, said Maxim Agarkov, an analyst with the SK-Strategia think tank.

Insurgents might be trying to revive a long-drawn conflict between Ossetians and the Ingush in neighboring Ingushetia over contested territory on the border between two republics, said Nikolai Silayev, an analyst with the Center of Caucasus Studies at the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations. Unlike the Ossetians, the Ingush people have a strong faction in rebel networks in the North Caucasus.

10 responses to “Chechen Terror Comes to Ossetia

  1. Generally, I trust Moscow Times. But as with everything coming out of Russian press, some skepticism is warranted. Why would Chechens conduct a suicide attack in North Ossetia? To prove what? And why not Ingush? And why not South Ossetians, as revenge for imposed prime-minister?
    I am not saying my alternatives make more sense. But the explosions in Moscow apartment buildings were also “obviously the work of Chechen terrorists”, except that they were not.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE REPONDS:

    The point isn’t really whether the Chechens themselves actually did this, but that Chechen-style terrorism is exploding in the region rather than being contained as Putin claims credit for doing. You’re quite right that the Kremlin would probably prefer to blame this on “bandits” in Chechnya as opposed to a fully home-grown movement in Ossetia, and for that reason could well be lying.

  2. North Ossetia is a hot spot for this activity because of the huge military structure(s) in the region. Soon, the rebels will be attacking positions in South Ossetia and this will be promptly blamed on the Georgians. This will effectively brainwash all of the Russian population into thinking that all Georgians are the new terrorist Kavkaz bogeymen.

  3. This was probably a Kremlin job. It’s remarkably similar to Beslan in its supposed perpetrators (Chechens) and targets (Ossetians). Which, as the Russophobe knows, Litvinenko has called an inside job, and Politkovskaya was killed to stop her from calling it an inside job.

  4. More like “FSB terror”. Every time something big is going to happen in the Russian politics, there’s always a “terror wave” (1999, 2004) – now the constitution is said to be changed and is said to return as a president. A similar attack took place in Ingushetia few days ago, too.

    While there were no suicide attacks since 2004 ( with the sole exception of the attack on Zyazikov’s motorcade), and no bombings of civilians (with the sole exception of a booby-trap on a funeral also in Ingushetia).

    There were dozens of suicide attacks and numerous bombings of civilians 2000-2004, with the responsibility in many cases taken by Basayev (who then ceased this after the Beslan disaster until his death in 2006). “Roadside bombings” and other such attacks never ceased.

    Speaking of “Chechen Terror”, http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/section.php?id=c does not even mention these incidents at all.

  5. “No suicide bombings occurred after Beslan until this August, a lull that security experts linked to the departure of foreign Islamic extremists from the Caucasus to other fronts in their global jihad, mainly Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    “Security experts” are stupid. All the attacks, exept few, were pereptrated by the ethnic Chechens.

    The reamining few were an Ingush (Zayazikov attamept), an ethnic Russian (a POW who had converted to Islam), and if I remember correctly also some other Russian citiziens (among them a Russian-Ukrainian organizer who died in a premature blast).

  6. I see no evidence from this article proving Chechen guilt of this suicide bombing in North Ossetia, much less their reason for wanting to do it. It is clearly based on speculation, nothing more.

  7. TB, “Security analysts said it bore the hallmarks of an attack by Chechen extremists.”

    LR maybe jumping to conclusions, but it is based on official statements. If you actually read it, maybe you would have noticed that.

  8. “The point isn’t really whether the Chechens themselves actually did this, but that Chechen-style terrorism is exploding in the region rather than being contained as Putin claims credit for doing.”

    The point is that you miss that the FSB are behind the attacks. The major terror acts happen when only they want them to happen – in 1999 (making Putin), in 2002 (derailing peace talks initiatives for Chechnya), 2003-2004 (changes in law), and now (change in the constitution).

    So they don’t “fail” nothing.

  9. I agree with Robert, the new KGB could be training left over Chechnyans to conduct attacks in order to create panic.

    Panic is the “hightened” state of awareness when you can count on making the wrong decision.

    If you think I’m full of it, look at the Spanish train bombing, and the election results soon after.

    When you concede to these people, you only encourage them.

  10. Not that much “training”, as using already existing double agents (as in Beslan – http://eng.kavkaz-uzel.ru/newstext/engnews/id/1233733.html – or the actual leader of the Moscow hostage taking) or even simply regular agents (as in 1999 Ryazan “exercise”).

    There is also a suspicious “Georgian terrorist” activity in South Ossetia and Abkhazia – and the people are being scared to watch for the “Georgian terrorists” allegedly coming to kill people indiscriminately in Moscow.

    Litvinenko wrote much about the FSB terrorism in Blowing Up Russia and paid for it with his life.

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