From Crisis to Conflagration

  • Share
  • Read Later
PERVOMAYSKAYA, DAGESTAN: Russian forces unleashed waves of artillery, rockets and helicopter fire after reports that Chechen rebels had shot some of roughly 100 local hostages they have held for six days. The attacks apparently have failed to dislodge many of the rebel fighters. Fewer than 10 hostages were freed and there was no clear information on whether others were slaughtered in the crossfire. "It looks like about half the village is destroyed," reports TIME's Yuri Zarakhovich. "The Russian military spokesman told journalists that we should not have an impression that this artillery barrage was indiscriminate. But the Russian army was never known for finesse. At some point, they set off a couple of mines near where press was headquartered, but no journalists were killed." More importantly, a southern Russian republic that became involved in the Chechen conflict by chance has now seen Moscow risk the lives of its people without qualms. "Dagestan is on the verge of explosion," Zarakhovich says. "The minority of people believe this was a justified action. But the majority believes the Russian federal government is just as guilty as the Chechen rebels."