Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has said that the minors who were reportedly behind a series of deadly attacks on police in the North Caucasus republic earlier this week had been directed from abroad.
Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the multiple attacks on Monday, released a video on Wednesday of four boys it said were behind the coordinated attacks, which included a botched suicide bombing and stabbing. Four of the assailants were reportedly shot dead and a fifth was hospitalized after surviving the suicide bombing.
“There is no longer any doubt that the order to attack the police officers came from abroad via social media,” Kadyrov wrote in a post on the Vkontakte social network on Wednesday.
“This is a real conspiracy, not just against law enforcement, but against the entire Chechen people,” he added.
Conflict-monitoring groups said the attacks had raised fears that youngsters were becoming radicalized in the republic, noting that the alleged assailants were too young to have witnessed the violence of Russia’s two wars against Chechen separatists following the Soviet collapse.
Kadyrov said that the masterminds of the attack had sought to “breed mistrust in the Russian public toward juveniles… so that every child of 10-12 years old is seen as a potential terrorist and a particularly dangerous criminal.”
The strongman leader of the volatile Muslim-majority region went on to blast human rights activists who he said “howl at the slightest attempt to conduct an investigation or conduct preventive work.”
“Let these activists stay out of Russia. We’re capable of maintaining order in our own country without European, U.S. or their sidekicks’ help,” Kadyrov wrote.