From Prague Watchdog (my tr.):
Shamil Basayev’s death may have been an accident
By Umalt Chadayev
INGUSHETIA - At night on July 10 four guerrillas were killed in Ingushetia as a result of a truck explosion and one of the men killed was Shamil Basayev, official Russian sources announced today.
"According to available information, a group of terrorists were blown up by their own explosives and ammunition which they were carrying on a ‘Kamaz’ truck. The explosion occurred near the village of Ekazhevo, Nazransky district. It was of such force that only the frame of the truck remained, and unexploded ammunition and mines were scattered in a radius of approximately 150 metres", said a source in the law enforcement agencies.
"The explosion also destroyed two Zhiguli passenger cars which were accompanying the truck of explosives", the respondent claims. "Four corpses were discovered at the site of the incident. Three of them have been identified. They are Shamil Basayev, his very close associate Tarkhan Ganizhev, and a man named Kushtov."
"Basayev was very probably in one of the passenger cars destroyed by the explosion. Although his body was decapitated, his identity has been established by a whole series of distinguishing characteristics. It appears that Basayev and his assistants were preparing to carry out a major terrorist action on the eve of the G8 summit in St Petersburg, in order to announce their presence once again."
A Chechen political analyst is of the opinion that Basayev’s death was most likely to have been an accident rather than by a successful operation by the special services. "Until it became clear that it was Shamil Basayev who had been killed as a result of the explosion of the ‘Kamaz’, the media were reporting that the guerrillas had been blown up by their own explosives, as a result of carelessness. Now they are saying it was ‘a successful operation by the special services’."
"I nevertheless incline to the view that Basayev died as the result of an accident. If a truck full of explosives blew up late at night, and the police and special services arrived there only some time later, and are only today announcing that Basayev is among the dead, one can suppose that this was not a special operation but rather an action by Basayev that went wrong," he says.
The Moscow-backed Chechen President Alu Alkhanov declared that "today’s date may be considered the logical completion of the most serious struggle with illegal armed units that has been undertaken by the special services, federal forces and law-enforcement agencies".
"The liquidation of Basayev in Ingushetia attests to the fact that for the terrorists there are no administrative boundaries, and that the terrorists must be fought everywhere they raise their heads," Alkhanov said. "Now the law-enforcement agencies and local authorities with the support of federal forces must employ a whole range of measures to ensure that the so-called lost ones may return home, and the gang of bandits who are unwilling to take account of reality are liquidated".
Moscow-backed Chechen Premier Ramzan Kadyrov expressed regret at the fact that he had not killed Basayev. "We are grateful to those who destroyed Basayev, but he is my blood enemy, and I promised to destroy him. I regret that it wasn’t me," Kadyrov said.
Throughout the "counter-terrorist operation", the Russian military has repeatedly announced that Basayev had been destroyed, but on each occasion the reports were not confirmed. Information concerning the death of Russia’s "Terrorist Number 1" made its most recent appearance last fall after the events in Nalchik. At that time, one of the slain guerrillas was mistaken for Basayev.
In late June Shamil Basayev was appointed vice president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria by a decree of Dokka Umarov, successor to Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev in the post of President of Ichkeria.
Translated by David McDuff.