- Grozny ballistic missile attack
Infobox civilian attack
title=Grozny ballistic missile attack
target=Open air market, mosque, civilian hospital
October 21, 1999
fatalities=At least 137
Strategic Rocket Forces
motive=At first official denial; later destruction of "arms bazaar"
The Grozny ballistic missile attack was a series of a devastating
Russian ballistic missilestrikes on the Chechen capital Groznyon October 21 1999. The attack killed 282 people according to the Chechen estimate (at least 137 according to the HALO Trustcount [http://mcc.org/clusterbombs/resources/research/death/chapter3.html#3E96 The October 21, 1999, Cluster Bomb Attack on the Grozny Market] , Mennonite Central Committee] ) and injured some 400, a large part of them maimed. The vast majority of casualties were civilians.
cluster munitionexplosions occurred in several areas of the capital, mostly in the downtownarea including the crowded outdoor central marketplace( bazaar). Some of the missiles exploded outside the city's only functioning maternityhospital, located near the Aslan Maskhadov's presidential palacebuilding (the palace itself was not damaged in the attack) and near the post office. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/1999/oct/22/chechnya.ameliagentleman Russian rockets hit Grozny market] , " The Guardian", October 22 1999] Still another hit the mosquein Kalinina, a suburbof Grozny. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/482193.stm Russians at odds over market attack] , BBC News, October 22, 1999] The hypersonicmissiles fell without warning as the Chechen radarsystem was destroyed in the earlier Russian air strikes.
According to Chechen sources about 35 people died at the hospital, including 13 mothers and 15 newborn babies. The majority of casualties from that particular missile seemed though to have been people waiting for
public transportoutside the hospital. In the Kalinina mosque, 41 out of the 60 people who gathered for evening prayer were killed. Most of the casualties, however, occurred at the central market, which was filled with hundreds of shoppers at the time of the attack, including Chechens, ethnic Russians and the Ingush. During this time, a rain of large shrapnelshowered the market, nearby streets, and open-air cafés, with each blast affecting large area.
Some time after the first blasts, the second, smaller wave of missiles fell about 200 meters from the bazaar. Among the victims was
Supian Ependiyev, the first journalist reported to be killed while covering the Second Chechen War. [http://www.cpj.org/protests/99ltrs/Chechnya5nov99.html Correspondent killed in Grozny rocket attack] , Committee to Protect Journalists, November 5, 1999]
The attacks unleashed a new wave of thousands of
refugees heading to the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE3DF1F39F930A15753C1A96F958260 Blasts in Chechen Capital Unleash New Wave of Refugees] , " The New York Times", October 23, 1999] The city's streets were reported to be largely empty after the attack, as those residents who have not yet fled were being too scared to venture outside. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/483510.stm World: Europe: Russia tightens noose around Grozny] , BBC News, October 23, 1999]
spy satellites (reportedly the Defense Support Program) tracked several Russian short-range ballistic missiles launched from the Russian city of Mozdokin North Ossetia-Alania, some 60 miles northeast of Grozny. The missiles are believed by western intelligence analysts to have been SS-21 Scarabs (OTR-21 "Tochka"). [ [http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=18123 Missile terror] , WorldNetDaily, October 29, 1999]
After days of denying responsibility, including remarks by the
Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putinthat the explosions were the result of a "clash between gangs", Russian spokesman said the busy marketplace was targeted in a "special operation in which no artilleryor aircraftwere involved" because it was used by rebels as an arms bazaar. Russian officials also insisted no civilians died in the blasts. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/1999/10/22/chechnya991022.html Russia denies deadly attack on Grozny] , CBS, November 10, 2000]
However, according to the
Human Rights Watch, the possibility of arms merchants in the bazaar did not justify "the tremendous amount of force" used against the market.
According to HALO Trust:
"Grozny market . . . is a great sprawling area of wooden stalls laid out each morning and packed away in the evenings. It is the equivalent of all your department stores rolled into one. Thus you can buy fresh bread, a TV set, a wedding dress, a bag of nails, and an
AK-47in one open area the size of a couple of sports fields. Each section is clearly demarcated and the area where weapons are sold is very small and set right against the edge. The center of destruction was in the central zone some 150m away from the area set aside for selling weapons. It was right over the clothes and food section. With the use of such munitions in such an area it was impossible not to have foreseen massive collateral damage."
The HRW concluded:
"Although there is some evidence that there may have been legitimate
militarytargets located near or within the Grozny bazaar, the size and extent of the blasts, combined with the large number of noncombatants in the immediate vicinity, strongly suggests that the Russian attack was grossly disproportionate." [ [http://hrw.org/english/docs/1999/11/03/russia1974.htm Evidence of War Crimes in Chechnya] , Human Rights Watch, November 3, 1999]
It is however clear that the type of missiles used did not have the accuracy needed to target one particular building or area, suggesting that downtown Grozny was the general target of this attack.
According to the
Major General Vladimir Shamanov, Russian top commander in Chechnya, as well as the president of Ingushetia and retired army general Ruslan Aushev, both said the decisions to attack were "made at the very top" (meaning at least knowledge by Putin and the President of Russia Boris Yeltsin). [ [http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGEUR460461999 CHECHNYA: FOR THE MOTHERLAND Reported grave breaches of international humanitarian law] , Amnesty International, December 1, 1999]
President of the European Parliament, Lord Russell-Johnston, expressed shock at the death toll and accused the Russian government of human rightsiolations and lawbreaking. The President of the European Union, Paavo Lipponenof Finland, said the group was "deeply worried about the deteriorating situation" in Chechnya. Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schrödercondemned the " massacreon the Grozny marketplace," and German politicians urged sanctionsagainst Russia. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4179/is_19991024/ai_n11737268 Chechnya: Two Russian warplanes shot down] , The Associated Press, Oct 24, 1999 ]
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annanissued a statement in which he expressed his "strong hope that special care is taken to avoid innocent civilian casualties in the current conflict and that the provisions of humanitarian law in armed conflict are respected". [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/482821.stm Russia under pressure over Chechnya] , BBC News, October 22, 1999]
White Housespokesman Joe Lockhartsaid "What's clear is that there's a tragic situation there with terrible loss of life," but he added that there were "conflicting reports and statements" about the marketplace blasts. United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albrightcalled the incident "deplorable and ominous" and said that the Russians should have learnt in their last war in Chechnya that "this kind of violence is not a solution".
Baku-Rostov highway bombing
Battle of Grozny (1999-2000)
Elistanzhi cluster bomb attack
Second Chechen War crimes and terrorism
* [http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/europe/9910/22/russia.chechnya.03/index.html Grozny residents in shock after attack] ,
CNN, October 22, 1999
* [http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,33058,00.html Carnage in Chechnya Has West Worried] , "
TIME", Oct. 22, 1999
* [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/these-desperate-dispossessed-people-on-the-edge-of-europe-are-victims-of-a-dirty-war-the-west-chooses-to-ignore-740289.html Victims of a dirty war the West chooses to ignore] , "
The Independent", 3 November 1999
* [http://www.gfbv.it/3dossier/cecenia/cecen-en.html Russia is committing war crimes and genocide] ,
Society for Threatened Peoples, November 18. 1999
* [http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=UIfH8RWjB6Q Russian Warcrimes in Chechnya, 3] ,
Youtube, February 25th 2008
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