. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hijacker Claimed To Be Rebel

The gunman who hijacked a bus full of passengers in Dagestan on Monday was a 24-year-old Chechen who claimed to have taken part in the hostage raid last year in Budyonnovsk, Dagestan's interior minister said Tuesday.


The man, who gave his name as Ruslan, escaped into Chechnya on Monday evening after releasing the last hostages and taking 100 million rubles ($18,600), Interior Minister Magomed Abdurazakov told Interfax.


The incident was small compared to the raid in the southern Russian town of Budyonnovsk in June last year. In that raid, more than 100 Chechen rebels staged the world's largest hostage-taking, holding more than 1,000 civilians in the town's hospital, only releasing them after securing safe passage back to Chechnya and a deal to initiate peace talks.


Monday's gunman, by contrast, demanded $100,000 and a helicopter, the minister said. "It became clear from the terrorist's conversation with the hostages on the way that Ruslan had lost his relatives and friends," Abdurazakov said.


"He declared he was a kamikaze who had nothing to lose," he said, adding that the hijacker was carrying three hand grenades and a 10-liter canister of gasoline. According to the minister, the gunman said he came from Urus Martan, a pro-Moscow town in central Chechnya, a detail that cast doubt on the story since the Budyonnovsk hostage-takers were a tight knit band from eastern Chechnya.


A deputy in Dagestan's parliament, Gadzhi Makhachev, who took the place of the roughly 40 bus passengers, offered the hijacker 60 million rubles of his own money and a guarantee for his safety. After some hesitation, the hijacker agreed to 100 million rubles and headed off in the direction of Chechnya with Makhachev and his driver, Abdurazakov said.


At the border post at Gerzel, just north of the Dagestani town of Khasavyurt, the gunman simply got out of the car and walked towards Chechnya, he said. That was at 9 p.m. Monday. The whole affair was over in less than three hours.