Russia: October 3, 2002


Ingush police announced that a rebel unit of up to 200 fighters had crossed the Georgian-Russian border and was heading for Ingushetia. The unit crossed the border near the Dzheirakh Gorge and was probably planning to help warlord Ruslan Gelayev's unit, which has been encircled near Galashki. 

They might be marching into a meat grinder, since Russian forces have divided the area into sectors and systematically pounded the rebels' last known positions, while Interior Ministry forces with dogs searched Galashki. The encircled rebels continue to offer stubborn resistance, firing up an army truck and killing it's driver. The Russians planned to wrap things up by week's end. Since the operation was launched, Russian troops lost 12 men killed and 26 wounded. 

The remaining rebels near Galashki have been trying to infiltrate across the Chechen border since 27 September, when unfamiliar armed men in a jeep visited Achkoi-Martan's market. The Russisans claimed that the raiders had lost up to 70 to 80 dead, although they had only located 32 bodies. There were rumors that Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelayev had led the rebel unit into Ingushetia from North Ossetia and had been gravely wounded in the fighting.

Two Chechen civilians hired by rebels to guide them in from Ingushetia to Chechnya were detained by the authorities. The men had used their own  automobiles to deliver food and medicine to rebels. Three of the six rebels captured have already testified that their group, numbering up to 100 men, was on the march for over three weeks and had crossed over the Georgian-Ingush border on 1 September.

The Russians also claimed to have captured a large number of weapons, ammunition and explosives;  one IGLA man portable air defense system (MANPADS), an RPG-7V grenade launcher, electric wires, 24 electric detonators, pound of TNT, fuses and PRG-7 grenade launcher rounds, as well as demolition instructions and detailed maps of southern. 

Russian officers considered the problem in Ingushtia to have no direct bearing on operations within Chechnya. Save for a four hour period from 06.00 in the morning, there were no cross-border restrictions in the area. Earlier reports had claimed that there were lines up to a mile long at the Kavkaz checkpoint. However, in the heights above Grozny's Staropromyslovsky district, Russian forces discovered an arms cache with two IGLA MANPADS. There were also three radio-controlled land mines disguised for road border blocks, four other home-made explosive devices and 1 pounds of TNT. - Adam Geibel

In Chechnya, rebel action killed a soldier and four security guards.



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