A prominent militant leader, whose group was responsible for series of explosions and assaults on police, was eliminated in Dagestan as Russian security forces staged three antiterrorist operations in the country’s turbulent region on Tuesday.
Eldar Magatov, the head of the so-called Babayurtovskaya gang,
had been in hiding in Dagestan’s Zubutli-Miatli village.
The private home, which the militant used for shelter, was cornered off on Tuesday, while residents in nearby buildings were evacuated, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC) said.
“Information has been received that women and children may be inside the house together with the criminal,” an NAC spokesman told the ITAR-TASS news agency. “The head of the special operation ordered negotiations to begin for their release. As a result, two women and two children managed to get out of the house.”
The militant was than given a chance to lay down his arms and surrender, but he began shooting at the security forces instead and was gunned down by reprisal fire, the spokesman said.
“He was preliminarily identified as Eldar Magatov, born in 1984, the leader of the Babayurtovskaya gang,” he added.
One policeman received a gun wound in the shootout and is currently hospitalized. No casualties among civilians were reported during the operation.
According to the NAC, Magatov began his criminal activities in Chechnya in 2006 and moved to neighboring Dagestan in January 2011.
Over the last three years, the Babayurtovskaya gang has been involved in blackmailing Dagestani businessmen, explosions and numerous attempts on the lives of policemen and court officials.
Another anti-terrorist operation was staged in the Vinsovkzhozny village on the outskirts of the town of Khasavyurt.
At least three gunmen from a local gang were blockaded in a private home there, with the security forces negotiating terms of surrender.
The operation concluded “with no casualties among the militants,” a police source told the RIA-Novosti news agency, leaving it unclear whether the criminals were detained or had managed to escape.
Antiterrorist forces have also besieged a house in Dagestan’s Stalskoe village, but there no reports on the outcome of the operation.
Also on Tuesday, the security forces successfully prevented a terrorist blast in Ashaga-Stal village, where a homemade bomb was planted near the office of the village’s administration.
“An improvised explosive device, equal to 7-5 kg of TNT, was defused using a hydrodynamic destroyer,” a spokesman for the NAC’s Operational Headquarters in Dagestan told the RIA-Novosti news agency.
Russia’s southern Republic of Dagestan, together with neighboring Chechnya and Ingushetia, has suffered from the continuous threat of terrorism against the civilian population.
Blasts and shootouts between militants and law enforcement officers occur in the region almost on a daily basis.
Dagestani police also say that two local citizens plotted the two explosions, which killed 32 people in Volgograd on New Year’s Eve.
A suicide bomber involved in one of the attacks was identified by the Russian security forces as Pavel Pechenkin – an ethnic Russian, who joined a terrorist cell in Dagestan in 2010.