In the early hours of the morning on December 4th, Twitter exploded with reports of a fire fight in the Chechen capital of Grozny, within minutes several videos and photographs emerged, heavy gunfire could be heard on the videos and several armoured vehicles were photographed on the city streets. As is the issue with crowd sourced news, there were several conflicting reports early on in the attack, the number of attackers ranged between 1 and 300, but the one detail everyone seemed to agree on was that 3 local police officers had died in the initial assault.
As the siege of the press building and school continued more details emerged about the assault, the attackers had hijacked 3 taxis, killed 3 police officers and the barricaded themselves in the publishing house. One question however still remained, who were the attackers and what did they want? Theories ranged from an ISIS attack to an attempted coup, eventually however, the Islamist group the ‘Caucasus Emirate’ claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming it was in retaliation against the “apostates” for the “humiliation of Muslim women”
The Caucasus Emirate or the ‘Caucasian Emirate’ have not really been in the public eye in the West, however they have been active in Russia since 2007 and have been designated as a terrorist organization by Canada, Russia, the UK, the USA and the United Nations. The group is thought to have carried out approximately 7 bombings since 2009, killing over 100 people. The group was also initially a suspect in the 2013 Boston marathon bombings however they denied any links to the bombing or the Tsarnaev brothers, stating that they were at war with Russia, not the United States.
The Russian response to the attack was swift and devastating, Very quickly after the attack became public knowledge the Russian army were in Grozny in force, with several armoured vehicles and a large number of infantry, together they bombarded the publishing house with cannon fire, small arms fire and RPGs, killing the militants inside the building. By the time the siege was over, 9 police officers and 10 militants had died.
This has been the second attack on Grozny this year by Muslim extremists, in early October a suicide bomber detonated his bomb, killing himself and 5 police officers. This was the first major attack by Islamist militants for 4 years, the last attack was in October 2010 when 3 members of the Caucasus Emirate attacked the parliament complex in Grozny killing 2 police officers and 1 parliament employee, all 3 attackers were killed.