Russian Troops Attacked, Report Claims 50 Killed


Moscow : A Russian troop convoy was attacked Saturday in the volatile Caucasus province of Ingushetia and an opposition website said around 50 soldiers had been killed, though officials confirmed only two dead.

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Around 100 interior ministry troops were in vehicles travelling on a road near the village of Galashki when they were attacked with grenade launchers and automatic weapons by the gunmen, officials said.

A website run by opponents of Ingushetia’s Moscow-backed administration,, quoted unnamed local interior ministry and medical sources as saying that “around” 50 Russian soldiers were killed in that attack.

If confirmed, that figure would represent one of the most deadly strikes against Russian federal forces in the north Caucasus since the end of major combat operations in neighboring Chechnya several years ago.

The three main Russian news agencies and the main broadcast television stations, all either run by or strongly influenced by the Kremlin, however reported only that two soldiers were killed and nine others wounded. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack.

The Chechen rebel website however also reported the attack and, quoting sources in Ingushetia, said it had resulted in the deaths of 50 “infidels.”

Unlike Chechnya in the 1990s, calls for independence from the Russia have not so far been central to the demands of local militants in Ingushetia, who have focused on opposing the province’s Kremlin-backed leader, Murat Zyazikov.

However Ingushetia, a mainly Muslim province neighbouring Chechnya, has been racked by a growing number of attacks against security forces in recent years that are often blamed by officials on “foreign” Islamist fighters.

The website is considered by independent observers a reliable source of information about events in Ingushetia that are not reported by Russia’s state-controlled media.

During the course of two wars in Chechnya between 1994 and 2004, Russian officials and state-run media regularly omitted reporting on serious losses sustained by Russian troops until long after the fact, if ever.

The website is highly critical of Zyazikov. The website’s owner, Magomed Yevloyev, was shot dead in August in a mysterious incident after being taken into police custody.

Following Saturday’s attacks, activists from the website said they were cancelling a demonstration to demand an objective inquiry into Yevloyev’s death that had been planned for Sunday in Nazran.

In its report on the attack, said: “A source from the Sunzhensky region interior ministry said around 50 soldiers were killed” while armoured personnel carriers and trucks were destroyed.

The website said five more Russian soldiers were killed in two other attacks in the area, apparently carried out on reinforcements sent to the site of the initial attack.

The assailants in the attacks escaped in the Galishki area and Russia’s FSB security agency immediately launched a “counter-terrorist operation” in the region, Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies reported.

The operation was called off later Saturday with “no results,” Interfax quoted a statement from the Ingushetia FSB office as saying.