Russia: January 2, 2003



In Chechnya, two Russian officers who had been kidnapped several days ago, managed to escape when the car they were in had an accident. The rebels were driving the two officers to a mountain hideout, where they would be held for ransom. 

Chechen rebels apparently suspect that their use of radios and cell phones has been leading to successful raids by Russian troops. As a result, the rebels have cut way back on their use of electronic communication.

The government announced that some Russian troops would remain in Transdnestria (a self-proclaimed independent area on the Romanian border) to maintain order.

January 1st, 2003: Rebels attacked police station, killing two Chechen policemen.

January 1st, 2003: The 27 December blast death toll near the Chechen government headquarters in downtown Grozny has risen to 81, with 152 wounded. Of those, 15 people were still in critical condition by the 30th. The Ural truck blew up right near the wall of the building and another explosion occurred inside the building at the same time. The blast left a 12 foot deep crater with a diameter of about 35 feet. 

Almost all city hospitals and some nearby village hospitals were providing treatment to the injured. Some of the patients had been airlifted to Moscow and neighboring regions. The Chechen government building was "absolutely destroyed" and a cafeteria adjacent to the government headquarters wiped out, while the nearby Federal Security Service (FSB) and prosecution service buildings were damaged. 

A criminal case has been initiated and the truck's engine block ID number has provided the Russian police with their first clue. First up were the three special-purpose police officers (who were guarding the checkpoints through which rebels came) were charged with negligence. Apparently, the rebels' trucks were masquerading as military deliveries and all of their papers were in order.

Russian strategists were telling the press that the Arab mujahadeen in Chechnya would "go for broke" after the Moscow theater siege: they'd alienated their nominally-allied Chechen supporters as well as any sympathy from Liberals in western Europe. Proof of this lies in the French secret service arrest of four Arabs in December, who were plotting to attack Russian interests (including their embassy in Paris). Two of the four were veterans of the fighting in Algeria, Afghanistan and Chechnya. One raid also turned up a suit to protect against chemical and biological attacks, as well as two empty gas canisters. - Adam Geibel




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