Latest update: 29/08/2010
Police kill at least 12 Chechen rebels after raid
Chechen police killed at least 12 rebels Sunday after an attempted raid on the home town of Moscow-backed President Ramzan Kadyrov, breaking a streak of relative calm in the tumultuous Russian republic.
By News Wires (text)
REUTERS - Chechen police killed 12 rebels as they repulsed a raid on the Moscow-backed president's home village on Sunday, authorities said, an attack that broke a period of relative calm in the troubled Russian republic.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov told state-run Rossiya-24 TV he headed the operation to fight off the attack on his village of Tsentoroi and said 12 insurgents were killed. His office also confirmed his account of the raid.
It was not clear however whether Kadyrov was in the village at the time of the attack, or directing operations from the republic's capital Grozny, some 60 km (37 miles) away.
Kadyrov, himself a former Chechen rebel, has vowed to bring peace and stability to the republic which has seen more than 15 years of sporadic separatist conflict, but Chechnya remains beset by political murders and extrajudicial killings.
Many of the neighbouring Russian republics in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus are also afflicted by simmering insurgencies and 10 rebels were killed in Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria on Saturday.
While there were conflicting accounts of Sunday's assault and the resulting casualties, the fact that it happened at all challenges Kadyrov's pledge to the Kremlin to maintain tight security in Chechnya, said Grigory Shvedov, chief editor of internet news agency Caucasian Knot.
"This raid is a message to President Kadyrov, who thinks he is fully in control of the situation," he told Reuters. "The sabotage looks quite successful, and is a sign that we could expect a surge in similar activities further on."
Some 30 rebels attacked the village early on Sunday morning, a source in the North Caucasus Federal District police in the nearby Stavropol region, told RIA news agency. Only a few rebels shooting a video of the raid managed to escape, it said.
Five civilians and two policemen were also killed in the attack, RIA said, but it said it could not immediately confirm the toll of 12 rebel dead cited by Kadyrov and his office.
An Islamist website, www.kavkazcenter.com, challenged the official data saying that at least 15 of Kadyrov's security officers were killed, while a total of 60 insurgents attacked the village. Five rebels were also killed, it said.
The insurgents spent about an hour rampaging through the village, the website said, citing local residents, and torched 10 houses it described as belonging to "Kadyrov's confidants". It was not clear whether Kadyrov's own house was also set ablaze, it said.
Kadyrov has been the target of a number of assassination attempts in the past 10 years, and Tsentoroi was raided by insurgents back in 2004, in what Kadyrov said was an attack aimed to kill him.