Russia: September 13, 1999

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Another Moscow apartment building was blown up by a terrorist bomb, killing 120 and injuring many more. The Chechen rebels in Dagestan have denied any complicity for this, and an earlier bombing. Other callers to Russian news media have taken credit, but it is common in cases like this for no one to take credit. The reason it simple, if you identify yourself publicly, you bring down on you the wrath of the entire Russian police apparatus. This is not good. More typical of  terrorism attacks in Russia since the end of the Soviet Union (and the demise of the dreaded secret police) is for the terrorists to let no one know who did it. Usually, the victim is suitably terrified and that, after all, is the object of terrorism. Most such attacks in the 1990s have been in support of commercial disputes, usually involving one of the many gangster organizations in Russia. When the first building bomb went off, the most likely suspect was someone who had a dispute with the owner of the building, or someone in it. Blowing up the entire building may seem a bit excessive, but Russian gangsters think big. Even after the second bombing, many feel that it is not the Chechens, but Russian politicians attempting to further divert Russians attention from other domestic problems. However, this does look like one Chechen faction or another escalating their war with Russia. It may result in another Russian invasion of Chechnya, for these kinds of bombing do get people incensed. Meanwhile, in Dagestan, Chechen rebels appear to be withdrawing from Dagestan villages they had seized a week earlier. The systematic Russian tactics appear to have worked once more, although now the Russians have to deal with hundreds of mines and booby traps left behind. 

September 12; Russian troops drove Chechen rebels out of the Dagestan village of Chabanmakhi. Russian Ministry of the Interior troops have suffered 157 dead and 645 wounded since August 7th, Army losses are considered a state secret, but considering the number of army troops involved, the Russian losses are probably at least double the announced losses. Russia continues its daily air raids on targets inside Chechnya.

September 11; Heavy fighting in Dagestan left at least 45 Russian troops dead, five BMP personnel carriers, one tank and a Mi-8 helicopter destroyed. This is the heaviest one day losses suffered by Russian troops in Dagestan so far and indicates the intensity of the fighting. The president of Chechnya, Aslan Maskhadov, a political foe of the warlord running the invasion of Dagestan (Shamir Basayev), ordered the mobilization of Chechen armed forces because of the Russian bombing of Chechen villages. Chechnya does not have armed forces as such, but rather several warlord militias armed largely with assault rifles, machine-guns, mortars and a few armored vehicles and artillery.. 

September 10; Russian police arrested two suspects in the previous days apartment house bombing. The two were connected to the ground floor business where the explosives were stored. In Dagestan, Russian troops drove rebels from the village of Gamiyakh.

 

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