Saturday, November 16, 2013

How To Deal With 'Islamists': Russian Manhunt Ends as Bus Bomber’s Husband Is Killed

MOSCOW (NYT) — Russian officials said Saturday that they had killed the husband of a suicide bomber who blew up a public bus last month in the city of Volgograd, ending a monthlong manhunt in Dagestan, a violence-plagued republic in the North Caucasus.

The bus bombing in Volgograd, which is about 900 kilometers (559 miles) south of Moscow, had unnerved the authorities because of its randomness and because instances of Muslim insurgent violence outside the Caucasus are relatively rare.

The bomber, Naida Asiyalova, blew herself up on a crowded No. 29 bus in the center of the city, killing six other passengers in a fiery blast that was recorded by the dashboard camera of a car traveling behind.

Ms. Asiyalova, who was four days shy of her 31st birthday, had been suffering from a grave, perhaps terminal, illness. After the bombing, investigators said they were searching for her common-law husband, Dmitri Sokolov, 21, whom they had identified as a demolition and explosives specialist for a rebel group based in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.

Russian officials said that antiterrorism forces found Mr. Sokolov, along with four others, just outside Makhachkala, where they engaged in a standoff. During a prolonged negotiation, investigators put Mr. Sokolov on the phone with his mother, who apparently pleaded with him to surrender, according to local news agencies.

Officials told news agencies that during the negotiations Mr. Sokolov admitted to making the explosive belt used on the bus in Volgograd, though there was no way to verify the claim.

The men refused to surrender, and all five were shot and killed, officials said. A woman and child in the house where the men had been blockaded were rescued unharmed, officials said, and a stash of weapons and ammunition was discovered.

Ms. Asiyalova and Mr. Sokolov apparently met as students in Moscow.

Russian security forces have been aggressively trying to suppress Muslim separatists ahead of the Winter Olympics, which will be early next year in Sochi, and the bombing in Volgograd was seen as demonstration of the ability of rebel fighters in the Caucasus to carry out attacks despite the crackdown.