Interior Troops hunt for internationally-wanted militant leader Umarov

Interior Troops in the North Caucasus (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Vyatkin)
North Caucasus militant leader Doku Umarov will eventually be detained, Deputy Interior Minister Nikolay Rogozhkin said, commenting on a special operation in the region.

­“We have been ceaselessly hunting him down,” Rogozhkin, the commander-in-chief of the Interior Ministry’s Troops, said at a news conference on Tuesday. However, he declined to elucidate on the details of the special operation currently under way in the region.

Umarov, the most wanted man in Russia and designated as a terrorist in the US, had earlier claimed responsibility for the blast at Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport on January 24.

The US State Department proclaimed in June 2010 that designating Umarov as an internationally-wanted terrorist was “in direct response to the threats posed to United States and Russia.”

The head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said on Tuesday that he believed that Umarov may be hiding in his republic. This conclusion could be drawn from a video showing Umarov with Magomed Evloev, the suspected suicide bomber at Domodedovo, he said.

Many other heads of illegal armed groups have been neutralized after they appeared in villages, Yevkurov told Interfax. But Umarov is likely to be hiding in mountainous and wooded areas, where it is more difficult to track him, the republic’s head noted.    

The suspected bomber Evloev served in Russian Interior Troops, Rogozhkin admitted. He served in one of the units of the Far East regional Command Center and was described by other servicemen as “secretive and unsociable,” the deputy minister said.

Currently, 20,000 Interior Troops servicemen are keeping the situation in the North Caucasus under control according to Rogozhkin. In 2010, they eliminated about 300 militants and detained 500 people on charges of participating in illegal armed groups.   

The situation in the region does not require additional reinforcements to those already stationed there, but things still remain difficult, the deputy minister acknowledged. Sporadic flare-ups in militants’ activity depend on the size of their funding, he stated.

On Monday evening, suicide bombers set off two bombs in the village of Gubden in Dagestan. Two Interior troops were reported dead and 27 injured. The servicemen who stopped a female suicide bomber, thwarted potentially graver consequences of that blast, Rogozhkin said.

Five other militants were killed in a clash on the border of the Stavropol Region and the Republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia on Tuesday morning. Three police officers were killed and three others were wounded during the operation.