Rogue Russian Troops May Be Behind Grozny Massacre
Salvos of rockets have slammed into a crowded open air market and other parts of the Chechen capital of Grozny, killing at least 118 people and critically injuring up to a 400. The Russian Defence Ministry is denying responsibility. Rogue troops may be responsible. John Howard reports.
Chechen officials said the rockets were fired by Russian forces moving in on the capital. But Russian military leaders have sent mixed signals about whether they intend to send troops into Grozny.
Grozny might be attacked, but only if it helps achieve the larger goal of eliminating Chechen militants, said Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev.
Sergeyev's deputy, General Vladimir Toporov, struck a slightly different note, saying, "Sooner or later the troops will enter Grozny. If not the troops, then the (Russian) authorities will."
Earlier Thursday, Russian officials said more federal troops had crossed the Terek River to take up positions outside Chechnya's capital, with forward units sitting on the city outskirts.
The Russian Defence Ministry says it has not given the order to enter or fire on Grozny which leaves a possible rogue troops scenario.
This, like the explosions in Jakarta, is possibly the work of frustrated elements in the military who have seen their power taken from them and are livid with their new position in society and are trying to provoke a full scale war. They remain in control of the weapons.
There are elements in both the Russian and Indonesian military who retain racial-hatred prejudices, are highly emotional and see either war or martial law as they only way to re-capture their power and standing.
Russia sent troops back into Chechnya at the end of September, fllowing weeks of airstrikes to eliminate Islamic militants who had earlier invaded neighboring Dagestan. The militants have also been blamed for a series of September apartment explosions in Russia which killed some 300 people, although Chechen warlords denied responsibility for the blasts.
Today's attack on Grozny looks like pay-back time by rogue Russian troop elements acting without orders.