Sad news came from North Ossetia today, 6 November 2008. The capital of the republic Vladikavkaz experienced a suicide terror attack, that killed 11 civilians.
It has passed over five years now since there was an attack like this on North Ossetian soil. In August 2004 there was a similar attack on the Russian military hospital in Mozdok (north of North Ossetia) which was followed by a devastating attack on a school in Beslan, in which over 300 hostages died. I exclude Beslan attack from this list, as it was an outstanding in its infamy hostage taking act.
Anonymous bombings have plagued North Ossetia since 1998 when blast killed around 60 people at the central city market (right next to the location of the latest bombing). Ever since I have been trying to answer this question – who is behind these bombings and what they want?
The trouble is it has never been clear who were the organizers of these attacks, even though Ossetians tended to blame their neighbour Ingush or Chechens for them. There was an armed conflict between North Ossetia and Ingushetia in 1992, that has never been fully alleviated.
So no one ever was taking responsibility for the bombings in Vladikavkaz (in Mozdok, it was more or less clear, as the attacks specifically targeted Russian military). What does that mean? Does that mean that Ingush extremists tried to terrorize Ossetians?
I assume, that terrorists are no insane people normally (at least their coordinators, if not those who carry out the attacks in person). So terrorists should aim at something. What should their aim be – anonymously attacking civilians in Vladikavkaz? What ends would they expect to meet?
Suppose they were Ingush. Moscow has just replaced the Ingush leader, that was very much hated universally by the Ingush. Why would they attack Vladikavkaz right after they seem to have achieved their goal? An attack like this would certainly make it even more difficult for the Ingush refugees to come back to their homes they left in North Ossetia, as well as for casual visits.
Russian security services? Unfortunately I can’t rule out this possibility also. Russian security services may have aimed at curbing rising Ossetian cause (especially evident after war and subsequent recognition of South Ossetia). It appears, South Ossetians do not consider, that Russians liberated them from Georgia only to enslave them themselves and this reality, that is fairly commonsensical, makes them unhappy. So the rationale behind an attack like this would be – “see, you’re totally dependent on us for your security”. Another possibility is a power struggle in North Ossetian government with Moscow vigorous participation – i.e. Moscow is perhaps wary of the North Ossetian leader Taimuraz Mamsurov, but does not know exactly how to remove him. Aggravating the situation in the republic could be one of the ways of dealing with this “problem”.