Ten members of the Kabardino-Balkaria-Karachai (KBK) wing of the North Caucasus insurgency and support personnel were killed early this morning in the village of Progress on the border between Kabardino-Balkaria and Stavropol Krai after a gun battle lasting several hours, according to Investigative Committee officials
Three of those killed have been identified as Asker Jappuyev (nom de guerre Amir Abdullakh), who assumed the leadership of the KBK jamaat one year ago; south-west sector commander Ratmir Shameyev (Zakaria); and Aslanbek Zhamurzov. Whether Jappuyev's deputy Kazbek Tashuyev, shown next to him in a video clip posted yesterday (April 28) to the website islamdin.com, also died is as yet unclear. The dead reportedly included two women, who may be the slender masked figures shown here seated next to Jappuyev
Jappuyev and Shameyev were the putative masterminds behind a 12 month killing spree that cost the lives of dozens of police and local government officials, republican mufti Anas Pshikhachev, and respected Circassian ethnographer Aslan Tsipinov
. Footage of the executions in cold blood of some of their victims was posted on islamdin.com last fall with the warning that "this is only the beginning."
Jappuyev and Shameyev were in many respects polar opposites: Jappuyev, 41, was a Balkar, an elder-brotherly figure who appeared sincere in his commitment to avoid civilian casualties at all costs. The Kabardian Shameyev, 22, by contrast, was a brilliant and charismatic orator, lionized by Islamdin bloggers.
After running rings around the local police for months, Jappuyev's fighters went into deep cover in early March after three of their comrades in arms were apparently betrayed to the security forces and killed in a dawn attack on the home of one of them
. The security forces then reportedly apprehended two support personnel who may have been aware of the location of the hideout in Progress
. Why the group violated elementary security precautions by spending the night together under one roof can only be guessed at -- unless they had reason to believe that all their other hideouts were under surveillance.
The KBK insurgency wing has suffered devastating losses before: it was almost wiped out in 2004-2005, after which the survivors -- including Jappuyev -- painstakingly spent years recruiting and training a new generation of fighters. Valery Ustov, head of the Investigative Committee for Kabardino-Balkaria, estimated their manpower in March as approximately 60. The fighters featured in yesterday's video clip include several men in their late 40s and early 50s, who presumably have tactical experience equal to Jappuyev's.