Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee said on Friday a prominent rebel leader responsible for a series of high-profile acts of "sabotage and terrorism" had been killed in a raid by security forces in the volatile North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia earlier in the day.
Dzhamaleim Mutaliyev, 35, known as Adam, was a leader of Caucasus Emirate, a loose umbrella organization of militant groups operating in the North Caucasus, and a close associate of notorious North Caucasus warlord Shamil Basayev who was killed in July 2006, the committee said in a statement.
Mutaliyev is believed to be a mastermind of a several deadly terrorist attacks, including the September 2010 market bombing in the North Caucasus city of Vladikavkaz, in which 19 people were killed and some 240 injured, and a suicide attack on a highway in the republic of Chechnya, which left four police officers dead, the statement said.
He was one of the three militants killed in the raid in Ingushetia’s village of Ekazhevo, it said.
Mutaliyev joined North Caucasus insurgency against the federal government during the second Chechen War in 1999-2000, and has held the title of Caucasus Emirate’s “military emir” since the arrest of his predecessor Ali Taziyev in 2010, the committee said.
The two other militants killed in the raid were Bekhan Ganiyev, 23, who was also involved in terrorist activity, including attacks on police, and Magomed Katsiyev, “a militant accomplice,” whose age was not mentioned in the statement.
Security forces found an improvised explosive device equivalent to some 15 kg of TNT, an arms cache, and a suicide vest at the house where the militants were hiding, the statement said.
Despite the official end of the decade-long counter-terrorism campaign in the North Caucasus in 2009, militant attacks on the police, FSB and other officials are frequent there.
The Russian presidential envoy to the North Caucasus, Alexander Khloponin, said in September some 1,000 militants continue to operate in the region, which saw two brutal federal wars against separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday it would deploy additional units of Special Forces (spetsnaz) to the North Caucasus to strengthen security in the region.
The Russian authorities have also moved to improve the poor economic conditions in North Caucasus republics and curb unemployment, which are believed to be the main factors driving local residents to join militant groups. A special commission has been launched under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to address the issues of socio-economic development of the region.