The “beardies” step up their jihad in the North Caucasus. More on this story. “Masked gunmen kill three as Islamist militants target Â£9bn ski resorts plan,” by Tom Parfitt in the Guardian, February 20:
A wave of killings is sweeping the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria as Islamist insurgents expand their battle across the strife-ridden North Caucasus. Security forces introduced a strict anti-terrorism regime near the ski mountain of Elbrus, after masked gunmen shot dead three Muscovite tourists and injured two others travelling by minibus towards the resort area on Friday.
It comes a fortnight after Doku Umarov, the insurgents’ Chechen leader who ordered the Domodedovo airport bombing that killed 36 people in January, promised Russia a “year of blood and tears”. The murder of the tourists was almost certainly organised with the aim of discrediting Kremlin plans to develop a Â£9bn chain of ski resorts across the North Caucasus, announced by President Dmitry Medvedev at the Davos World Economic Forum last month.
Television pictures showed the tourists’ bullet-riddled vehicle as security operatives introduced a curfew and identity checks near Elbrus — the main resort in Medvedev’s plan.
An explosion at one of the resort’s cable cars, also on Friday, brought several cabins crashing to the ground. No-one was hurt in that incident but three more bombs were defused at the resort on Saturday.
The attacks were most likely orchestrated by Islamist militants who have carried out a spate of murders in the republic in the last three months. Kabardino-Balkaria’s mufti, Anas Pshikhachev and Aslan Tsipinov, a prominent ethnographer who the militants accused of promoting paganism, were assassinated in December….
In Nalchik, a smart town of tree-lined boulevards, there is a palpable sense of fear.
Albert, a taxi driver who declined to give his surname, said: “Every other day someone is exterminated. The beardies [extremists] leave leaflets around town threatening, ‘don’t go to this doctor, don’t get your hair cut by a woman.'”
He added: “There was a fortune teller in our district, a Greek. He made predictions by looking at coffee dregs. Innocent guy. They killed him, just like that.”…