Chechen Leader Says Three ISIS Members Have Been Killed in Russia

Alleged ISIS members killed in Russia
Soldiers of the Akhmad Kadyrov special forces unit march on May 9, 2015. ISIS has claimed the killing of more than a dozen authorities in the Russian republics in recent years. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters

Anti-terror police in Russia's Chechen Republic have killed three suspected ISIS militants in two separate shootouts in the Chechen capital of Grozny, according to the Russian Ministry and a social media post by regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

The Russian Ministry of the Interior confirmed the death of the three alleged militants but later clarified that three law enforcement officials were also wounded in the incidents in an official statement. One of the policemen was admitted to hospital in serious condition.

Kadyrov posted a message on his wildly popular Instagram account on Thursday stating that the three militants from the extremist group, had returned from Syria via different routes, and were planning attacks in Russia during the holidays — though it's unclear which holidays Kadyrov was referring to. October 5 marked Grozny Day, and on October 7 was the birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Thanks to the vigilance of our department, their plans were foiled," Kadyrov wrote on Instagram, adding that the leader of the "three ambassadors to ISIS" was first tailed as he drove his car, but when police attempted to arrest him he shot at them.

"The militant opened fire, wounding two law enforcement officials," Kadyrov wrote. "The terrorist was destroyed when fire was returned. He has been identified. He's one Shamil Chergizov, present on the international wanted list as a member of ISIS.

"Immediately an operation ensued in detaining the two other terrorists. They refused to cooperate, resisted arrest and were neutralized," Kadyrov added, although he did not reveal the identities of the two other alleged terrorists. They were named by pro-Kremlin online channel LifeNews as Zelimkhan Bashanayev, 26 and Magomed Mazayev, 33.

T he Chechen leader is prone to bombastic statements on social media and has been very vocal in his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has been fiercely critical of ISIS, attributing its creation to the West and the U.S.

The Chechen leader also warned that "anyone who tries to interfere with the peace and stability of Chechnya and the whole of Russia" will be treated in the same way as the three men, who he said "died ingloriously."

According to Kadyrov, Chechen authorities are investigating whether other individuals were linked to the group. Kadyrov did not disclose where the men lived, but said that mines, grenades and machine guns had been found at their property.

Earlier this week, Kadyrov said that authorities in Chechnya had detained three other alleged ISIS members and warned citizens to be vigilant of ISIS recruiters in the republic, saying that they are targeting "respectable" and integrated members of the North Caucasus, predominantly Muslim society.

Russian security forces have voiced their concern that ISIS returnees could become a problem for Russia. They have estimated that around 2,500 Russian nationals are fighting for Islamist groups in Syria and 1,700 in Iraq. Moscow has said that the possible return of these fighters to Russia is part of the reason it is carrying out airstrikes in Syria.

However other governments have questioned Russia's intentions, pointing out that the airstrikes have also hit areas in Syria's northwest, the location of Islamist and secular groups opposed to ISIS and the Syrian government. "Russian forces struck Syria and curiously didn't hit Islamic State," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers last week.

On Friday , the head of Russia's upper house of parliament dismissed these claims, saying that the West was "jealous" of Russia's operations in Syria. Russia has admitted that it is targeting groups that are not ISIS but who have been designated as "terrorists" by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Chechen Leader Says Three ISIS Members Have Been Killed in Russia | World