Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Battle Near Grozny

A PW report (my tr.)
Battle takes place in Novye Atagi

May 10th 2006

By Umalt Chadayev

NOVYE ATAGI, Chechnya - Last night a group of guerrillas and law enforcement officials exchanged fire on the outskirts of the village of Novye Atagi, about 20 kilometers southeast of Grozny. Local residents say the battle lasted not less than two hours.

"At around 1:00 am concentrated fire from sub-machine guns, machine guns and other weapons began,” says Mansur, a 33-year-old resident of Novye Atagi. "People were extremely frightened, but were afraid to come out to the street because it was impossible to tell who was firing at whom, and why.

"The shoot-out lasted for about two hours. No one is able to say exactly what happened there. People say that Russian soldiers and local police tried to arrest a group of guerrillas on the outskirts of the village, and the guerrillas put up resistance,” he said. "Then heavy armour was brought in. There is information that one guerrilla was killed. It’s also not known exactly how many of them there were, but it seems that several were able to get away.”

According to Mansur it is also not known whether there were any losses among the forces who carried out the operation. The area where the armed clash took place is at present cordoned off by soldiers and police.

In the morning Chechen police refused to make any comment on what was happening in Novye Atagi. In the afternoon the Interior Ministry of the Chechen Republic announced that local guerrilla leader Timur Maayev was killed in the battle.

While the Ministry claims that Maayev was alone and put up armed resistance to an offer to surrender, local people insist that there were several guerrillas and Maayev stayed in the place to provide covering fire that would help his fighters break through the encirclement.
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