A couple of days after the raid on Ingushetia, everyone seems to be getting their bearings and slowly figuring out what exactly happened. Here are a few of the key developments of the last 24 hours:
ITAR-TASS has a breakdown of the latest casualty figures – 98 dead and 104 injured in total.
According to government sources, 23 of those killed were civilians, 29 police, 10 agents of the federal security service FSB department, five prosecutors, 19 troops, two Chechen police and 7 border guards. Three bodies remain unidentified. A total of 104 were injured, including 25 civilians. The others are law enforcers.
There is still a lot of confusion about who exactly the attackers were, and how many. A consensus seems to be emerging, however, that the attackers were mainly Ingushetians, backed up by a sizeable contingent of Chechens, plus (perhaps) some Arab mercenaries. Associated Press reports that, although previous estimates put the number of fighters at between 200-300, the Ingushetian Interior Ministry now believes up to 1,000 took part in the fighting.
The slow response of Russian troops to the raid has been widely condemned. By the time federal troops got to Nazran, scene of the heaviest fighting, the attackers had already melted away into the night. If, as reported above, the attackers numbered up to 1,000, then it is possible that federal troops were initially outnumbered on a tactical level – there is little sense in them venturing out piecemeal and getting slaughtered. But more serious structural problems with the military seem to have played a role too – Mosnews reports that federal troops lacked transport and weren’t able to respond until buses were provided by the local authorities. Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov argued that the Russian army is still organised along cold war lines, and is simply not structured to meet terrorist threats:
Using “permanent readiness units to fight terrorism is like fighting mosquitoes with a hammer,” Ivanov said.
President Putin has admitted that communications between the centre and the regions are not what they should be. After his trip to Ingushetia he commented:
It was necessary to see for myself how the events there were developing, Putin said of his trip to Ingushetia, to see the results of the attack. What I saw there did not correspond to what I knew in Msocow.
Pro-rebel news outlet Kavkazcenter.com reports that film of the attack aired on (Saudi?) Arabia TV shows local Ingushetians welcoming the attackers.
The video shows how several dozen of Ingushetian people were hugging with armed men in camouflage uniforms, and nobody was surprised or especially indignant about it.
Cheers ‘God is Great!’ (‘Allah Akbar’!) and «Death to Kafirs (infidels)!» were heard on the footage as well.
Finally, but not surprisingly, retribution has begun. Mosnews reports that a Chechen refugee camp near Nazran was raided by masked men yesterday. Refugees were allegedly beaten and told to leave the camp within two days, otherwise the camp would be burnt down.