July 25, 2002
On 24 July, Russia's North Caucasus Combined Federal Forces command executed a major operation designed to eliminate a large rebel group in Chechnya's mountains. Using recent intelligence information, the military surrounded a camp intended for 40 rebels located in a forest outside the village of Agishty in the Vedeno district. The rebels offered fierce resistance, but all of them (including their leader) were eliminated. Russian investigators were still trying to determine the rebels' identities.
Over the previous 24 hours, Federal forces in the Chechen Republic carried out eight special operations in Chechnya's Nozhay-Yurtovskiy, Nadterechnyy, Vedenskiy, Shalinskiy, Achkhoy-Martanovskiy and Urus-Martanovskiy Districts. A total of 45 people were detained on "suspicion of involvement in illegal armed groups" and are now subject to investigations. The Russians claim that two terrorist acts were prevented by these raids.
Federal forces also discovered 10 caches of weapons, ammunition and food after a tipoff was obtained from "militants detained during search operations". A shotgun, 58 artillery shells, 16 landmines, eight grenade-launchers, 123 grenades, over 6 kg of explosives, and a large amount of small-arms ammunition (as well as food designed for long-term storage) were removed from the caches.
The rebel press claims that the Russians are deliberately targeting young Chechen males in these sweeps and using them as a form of genocide. One report alleged that almost every third detainee was killed (after having been tortured) and another third were still missing. - Adam Geibel