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New Kabardino-Balkaria Militant Commander Suspected Behind Power Plant Attack

Investigators look at the damaged turbine hall of the Baksan hydropower station.
Investigators look at the damaged turbine hall of the Baksan hydropower station.
Balkar fighter Asker Jappuyev (nom de guerre Emir Abdullakh) has already been identified as the putative mastermind behind the overnight attack on the Baksan hydropower plant north of Nalchik.

That attack was the second high-profile operation by militants in Kabardino-Balkaria in recent months. In early May, fighters planted an explosive device at the Nalchik racecourse that killed one person and injured 30.

According to Russian media reports, a group of between two and four fighters killed two guards and made their way into the Baksan power plant, where they planted explosive devises that damaged two of the three turbines. They then retreated safely.

For years after the ill-fated multiple attacks on police and security facilities in Nalchik in October 2005 there had been little militant activity in Kabardino-Balkaria apart from sporadic isolated attacks on police.

The attack on the Baksan power plant was the logical culmination of an upsurge in militant activity since April, when Jappuyev took command of the Kabardino-Balkar-Karachai jamaat following the killing in March of its legendary leader, Anzor Astemirov (Emir Seyfullakh).

Since then, militant fighters have targeted police almost on a daily basis, and perpetrated a series of explosions, mainly in Baksan and the outlying area. Not all the explosions caused serious damage, but they may have been intended simply as "training exercises" in the use of explosives in preparation for the sabotage of the hydropower plant. Local news agency reported two cases in Kabardino-Balkaria last year in which fighters apparently blew themselves up or seriously injured themselves while handling explosives.

It was Jappuyev who ordered the multiple attacks on mobile-phone relay towers in Kabardino-Balkaria earlier this month, according to a statement posted on the KBK jamaat website

The attack on the power plant comes less than a week after the appointment of a new head of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.


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