At least four police officers were killed last week in a series of attacks in the mountain republic of Chechnya, Russian law enforcement authorities said, raising fears of renewed violence in the restive region. Reports said a group of five committed four attacks between Shali, the third-largest town in Russia’s predominantly-Muslim region, and the capital, Grozny. The perpetrators of the attack were said to be ‘young men’ brainwashed via social networks by the Islamic State.
The ISIS’ official news agency issued a statement claiming responsibility on the Telegram messaging app, describing the assailants as “fighters from the Islamic State.” It did not use the phrasing characteristically employed to describe an inspired attack, suggesting that it viewed those who carried out the violence as core members.
Nestled in the mountains at Russia’s southernmost border, Chechnya has become synonymous with violent conflict. Following centuries of the insurgency, and a brief Soviet interregnum, the region descended into two brutal civil wars with Russia in the 1990s. These killed hundreds of thousands and leveled the capital, Grozny.
The attacks are a clear sign that ISIS has active cells in central Asia despite Russia being actively involved in the war against the jihadists in Syria and Iraq. The series of attacks ought to raise alarm about the reach of ISIS in the region.