A source in the Russian army headquarters in the Caucasus advised that the helicopter was downed with a missile from a mobile anti-aircraft weapon at 8 a.m. It was also reported that the chopper fell down on the village of Galashki. Two members of the crew died. The source also said that the gunmen tried to shoot another helicopter, but missed it.
The Russian helicopter was downed during a battle that started at night in the village of Galashki. NTVRu.com reported that there were over 300 guerrillas there. By midday the gunmen were forced out of the settlement. They were blocked on an agricultural farm not far from the village. Russian Army Headquarters in the Caucasus informed, the gunmen penetrated from Georgia.
The group of gunmen that were blocked in Ingushetia is reportedly headed by Vitaly Smirnov (born in 1977). Chechnya’s Office of the Public Prosecutor said to Russian RBC news agency that Smirnov’s gang was persecuted by federal military structures for committing several outrageous crimes. Smirnov’s gang is charged with kidnapping people for the sake of further redemption, as well as with numerous assaults and robberies.
The Office of the Public Prosecutor of the Chechen republic said, Vitaly Smirnov had not shown any activity until recently. Most likely, Smirnov’s actions did not have any hidden motive. The guerrillas were most likely moving from the area of their temporal cover to the north of Chechnya. They just bumped into federal troops, which resulted in a battle. Yet, Chechen prosecutors did not exclude that Smirnov could change his tactics and launch the real struggle with the federal forces for the adequate reward, of course.
RIA Novosti informed, one of the killed gunmen had British IDs with him. The department of information of the Russian president said with reference to Russian special services that the named of the killed gunmen was Roderick John Scott, born in 1973. According to the information from special services, the British passport had Georgian visa 364496. The visa is valid from June 13, 2002 till September 15, 2002. In addition to that, there was a video camera and tapes found among the dead rebels. Tapes and documents are being checked currently.
Gennady Seleznyov, the speaker of the Russian State Duma advised that the gunmen that penetrated into the territory of Ingushetia were not the last terrorist group that crossed the Russian border. Seleznyov advised that Georgia had to realize that Russia was not wasting its time, when it was asking it to get rid of guerrillas. “Those, who do not surrender, should be physically destroyed,” said Seleznyov.