Investigators charged Chechen warlord Doku Umarov on Tuesday with masterminding the Domodedovo Airport bombing, even as media reports suggested that he might have been among 17 militants killed in clashes a day earlier.
Umarov — who had been reported dead eight times earlier — claimed responsibility for the January bombing that killed 37 people, as well as twin Moscow metro suicide blasts that killed 40 people exactly a year ago Tuesday.
But the Investigative Committee, which charged him in connection with the airport bombing, dismissed his involvement in the metro attack Tuesday.
Security forces raided a camp for suicide bombers in Ingushetia late Monday in their search for suspects linked to the Domodedovo bombing, killing 17 militants, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee said.
Forensic tests were being carried out on the bodies Tuesday, but Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said they included senior militants. He identified only one, Umarov’s chief ideologist, saying his name was Abusupyan.
Interfax, citing an unidentified source, said the dead also included Umarov, his personal bodyguard Supyan Abdullayev, and fellow warlord Aslan Byutyukayev.
In a possible confirmation of the report, President Dmitry Medvedev said after being briefed about the raid Tuesday that the militants had suffered “a considerable loss.” He did not elaborate.
“It’s good that you struck these scoundrels in their den,” Medvedev said during a meeting with Federal Security Service deputy head, Sergei Smirnov.
Reports on Umarov’s death have appeared regularly, with the first dating back to 2000.
Two suspects in the airport attack, brothers Islam and Ilez Yandiyev, were detained Monday in the Ingush operation, the Investigative Committee said in a statement. They are accused of driving the suicide bomber, Ingush resident Magomed Yevloyev, to Domodedovo, where he blew himself up in the international arrivals hall.
A suicide belt and two homemade bombs were found during a search of the Yandiyevs’ home, suggesting that they had been plotting another attack, the statement said.
Three other people were arrested earlier in connection with the bombing, two of whom were Yevloyev’s siblings. Two more suspects have been added to a federal wanted list, the committee said.
The timing of the Ingush raid on the eve of the first anniversary of the Moscow metro blasts is likely a coincidence, said Andrei Soldatov, a security expert and editor of Agentura.ru.
“It’s not like the special ops to time their operations with the anniversaries of terrorist attacks,” he said by telephone.
Scores of people laid flowers Tuesday at the sites of the bombings in the Park Kultury and Lubyanka metro stations.
Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee elaborated on the attacks in a separate statement on Tuesday, identifying for the first time six new suspects — of whom all but one are already dead.
Investigators confirmed earlier reports that blamed the rush-hour bombings on Magomedali Vagabov, a Dagestani rebel leader with close ties to Umarov.
Vagabov, the husband of one of the two female suicide bombers who died in the attacks, denied involvement prior to being killed in a security operation in August.
Five other suspects, identified only by their last names — Aliyev, Shchashchev, Magomednabiyev, Rabadanov and Isagadzhiyev — aided Vagabov in preparing the attack and were later killed while “resisting arrest,” the committee said.
The sole surviving suspect, Gusen Magomedov, a 22-year-old Dagestani native, has been put on an international wanted list, the report said, without mentioning his possible whereabouts. Magomedov is accused of escorting the two metro bombers from the Dagestani city of Kizlyar to Moscow and guided their actions on the day of the attacks.