Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee announced on 6 September that the authorities had eliminated four alleged IS-connected militants in North Ossetia, who they claim had planned to attack police.
Media reports say three members of an armed underground group were killed in the initial operation, and another, aged between 30–35, was shot later while trying to escape. Caucasian Knot identified one of the slain militants as a native Dagestani; the nationality of the others is yet to be confirmed.
According to the committee, a counterterrorism operation was conducted after the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) discovered the presence of armed IS supporters in the republic.
The committee published on 6 September a video showing three of the alleged militants pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. Two of them wore masks.
The shootout took place south of Vladikavkaz in the vicinity of the village Chmi, located in the Suargom Valley bordering Georgia. The village is populated by mostly ethnic Georgians and Ingush.
Although the authorities claim the militants had planned attacks on police, Kavkaz.Realii, RFE/RL’s Russian language service covering the North Caucasus, wrote the committee decided to act upon receiving information about the presence of Islamic State militants on the territory of North Ossetia.
Kavkaz.Realii quoted Mikhail Skokov, Interior Minister of North Ossetia, as saying that 35 residents of the region were wanted for ‘participating in the activities of extremist group IS’. Despite counter-terrorism measures reportedly being rare in North Ossetia, Kavkaz.Realii wrote that the recent CTO ‘reminds us of the existence of Islamic radicalisation in the republic’.
Slightly over 700,000 people live in North Ossetia, according to a 2017 report from Rosstat, the Federal Service of State Statistics. Christians account for roughly 60% of the population, 29% follow ‘traditional religion’, and 4% are Muslims.