A rebel base was destroyed during a military raid in Chechnya’s Vedeno district, the Russian headquarters for anti-terror operations in the Northern Caucasus reported Tuesday. Seven militants were killed in the clash, army spokesman Ilya Shabalkin told the RIA-Novosti news agency.
Some 2,000 Russian commandoes, Chechen police and Ramzan Kadyrov’s militia filled the Vedeno district of Chechnya, as the joint forces combed the vicinity of Dyshne-Vedeno, the native village of the notorious warlord Shamil Basayev, Gazeta.Ru reported.
Seven Chechen militants were killed during the raid, but Shamil Basayev was not among them.
Chechnya has not seen operations of such a large scale for many months. Ramzan Kadyrov, first deputy prime minister and the son of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow president Akhmad Kadyrov, killed on May 9 of the last year, oversaw the raid. He reported that members of illegal armed formations had been spotted in the area of Dyshne-Vedeno.
The first clash occurred on Monday. A shootout between police and militants continued for about an hour. The raid continued till Tuesday morning.
Observers believe the main goal of the raid was to apprehend Shamil Basayev. Earlier Kadyrov had pledged to arrest Basayev before Victory Day on May 9.
On Monday night Kadyrov’s fighters discovered a rebel hideout four kilometers east of Dyshne-Vedeno. When the rebels realized they had been spotted, they opened fire at the federal forces, Shabalkin said. The federals responded with gun-fire. Some of the bandits, including several wounded, have escaped, he said.
One PK machine-gun, five AK-74 assault rifles, an anti-tank grenade launcher and a large quantity of ammunition were found at the site of the fighting and at the base, Shabalkin said. The base included several dug-outs and tents, and facilities for providing medical care. A considerable quantity of medicines and plasma was also discovered.
The dug-outs along the perimeter of the base were mined. There were eight remote-controlled home-made explosive devices made with 152-millimetre artillery rounds. The base was subsequently destroyed. The weapons and ammunition were handed over to forensic experts.
The Interfax news agency quoted Shabalkin as saying that federal forces had information that the base was home to a group under the command of warlord Shamil Basayev. It is possible that Basayev may have visited the base “periodically”, the spokesman said.
“Given that the base had medical equipment and security systems, and that the paths leading to it were mined, it is possible to believe that the most senior heads of bandit detachments were there,” he added. Shabalkin also said that those killed could not be identified because the bodies were badly disfigured as a result of an artillery strike.