Late Wednesday evening into early Thursday morning, Islamic militants held a surprise attack on Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, leaving 19 individuals dead. The attack happened shortly before Russian President, Vladimir Putin, was going to give his annual state of the union address in Moscow. The surprise attack would leave a total of 19 dead, 10 police officers and nine militants, but would also leave another 28 individuals wounded from the gun battle reported Russia’s Anti-Terrorism Committee.
The militant rebels entered the city around 1 am. They were driving in three separate cars and dressed in police uniforms. They then approached a guarded checkpoint and unloaded fire, killing three guards. They would then ambush two nearby buildings, a 10 story publishing house and a school.
The first building that the rebels seized, a publishing house, was quickly recovered by federal security forces. Six members of the Islamic militants were quickly found, shot and killed. The media building would soon become ablaze with flames from all of the gunfire that had erupted in the building. The fire would quickly spread to a nearby market, leaving the city in shambles.
The second building seized by the rebel terrorists, a three-story school, would prove to be a bit more difficult for authorities to recover as the gunmen barricaded themselves inside. Security forces would then begin rapidly firing rounds at the school building and launching grenades at the building trying to force the rebels out. Luckily, the attack had taken place while there were no students or teachers inside of the school. By Thursday morning authorities would report that all of the rebel militants had been killed and the attack on the city was over.
According to residents in the city, it was as if a war had taken place. There were huge smoke piles rising from many locations within the city that could be seen from afar and several burning buildings. Armed gunmen were running the streets other residents claimed, posting videos of the armed men nervously walking through the streets. Other residents claimed that there were more rebels that were attacking other targets throughout the city and that the mayhem was yet to be over.
When speaking about the most recent rebel attack that left 19 dead is Grozny, President Putin declares that Russia is surrounded by enemies who seek to destroy its economy and firmly stands his ground while stating, “we will not allow it.” He also asks for the people of the city to support the low local law enforcement bodies in their efforts to protect the city against any future rebel attacks. Authorities are also urging people to stay inside of their homes until it is declared by authorities that it is safe for them to return to the streets.
Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who had overseen the anti-terrorism efforts in the city of Grozny before traveling to Moscow for the President’s speech, stated that he thinks the rebels were connected to Doku Umarov and his forces. Umarov, who died last year, was a longtime leader of the Islamic extremists from the North Caucus. Kadyrov played a major role in the reason why, up until now, Grozny was spared from the violence that surrounded the city due to his forceful security measures that had been taken to protect the city capital.
According to a video that was posted on YouTube, the rebel attack on Grozny that left 19 dead was an attack in retaliation for Grozny’s oppression of Muslim women. Another source, a Kavkaz Center website and outlet source for Islamic rebel groups posted a link to a video message from an individual who claims that he was responsible for the attack on Grozny. The individual claims that he was ordered by Chechen Islamist leader, Aslan Byutukayev (AKA Emir Khamzat) to carry out the attack on the city of Grozny. It has yet to be confirmed if either of the two sources can be verified or if their claims are true.
By Kelli Patterson