Chechnya festivities may have been thwarted when a suicide bombing killed Grozny police officers and wounded many others. Russian news agents report that five or more officers were killed Sunday and 12 others wounded at a local festival held at the capital.
Chechnya has been experiencing calm after two pro-autonomy wars and a stalling Islamic rebellion. The aggressive rule of leader Ramzan Kadyrov has provoked opposition. Suicide bombings, however, have not occurred since 2012 when four soldiers were killed in an incident in Grozny.
Sunday’s suicide bombing in Chechnya occurred at the concert hall entrance where festivities – which may or may not have been thwarted – were set to commence in honor of Grozny’s City Day. This holiday also happens to be Kadyrov’s birthday. Police noticed a young man behaving suspiciously and decided to investigate him. When they approached, the bomb detonated. According to reports, civilians were not harmed in the attack.
After the Chechen separatist wars, occurring in 1994-96 and again in 1999-2000, revolts spread across North Caucasus which is predominantly Muslim. Insurgents raged against the mixing of religion, abuse of rights and corruption. Kadyrov’s father, Akhmad Kadyrov – previously Chechnya’s leader – fought beside separatists in the Chechen war prior to defecting to the Russian side.
The Chechnya bombing is the first extremely violent act since the murder of Doku Umarov. While the Winter Olympics was being hosted by Russia commenced in Sochi, Umarov, an insurgent leader, died in a clampdown. Bombings on an electric trolleybus and a train station, killing 34 people, caused an increase in security in preparation for the Olympics.
In 2007, Kadyrov became the leader of Chechnya. He swore to demobilize militants but was met with opposition from groups advocating human rights. The groups criticized him for insurgents’ disappearances and torture. He has been threatened by known insurgents who identified themselves as Caucasus Emirate.
Kadyrov, who had recently been awarded Russia’s medal for child protection medal, which he can add to prior awarded medals for the liberation of Crimea and kindness and humanity, was reported to have been involved in violent struggles for power with the Chechen government while seeking leadership. Also a recipient of the Hero of the Russian Federation award, the highest honor given by the country, Kadyrov was praised for his work administering the fostering of displaced children. According to the Public Recognition Foundation, his contributions also extended to war veterans.
Kadyrov reported that the suicide bomber was dressed as a policeman when he arrived to the concert hall. He presented false identification as he attempted to pass through. Chechnya Police realized that the bomber was not one of them and advanced on him. That was when he detonated the bomb.
The 19-year-old bomber, Apti Mudarov, had disappeared from home prior to his attack. Agencies report that the bomber had been missing for two months. It was also reported that Chechnya law enforcement suspected Mudarov had ties to a gang.
It is unclear what Mudarov’s exact motivations were, whether he intended to harm government officials, law enforcement or civilians. As the day progresses, time will tell whether the Chechnya festivities will commence or if the suicide bombing has thwarted celebratory plans, which may have been another possible purpose for the attack.
By Charice Long