The story of a witness to a missile strike in the center of Shali

The recording is in Russian

Place of interview: Ingushetia

Interview date: unknown

The relatives of the witness, including her brother, lived in the city center, at the eighth school. According to her, on the day of the attack, the city center streets were filled with celebration as people travelled home to their relatives and friends. A number of people, particularly some younger individuals, had gathered around the city center to spectate the events that were taking place. At some time after lunch, a missile struck the city center. Hundreds of people became victims of the attack.

The interviewee described dozens of dead and injured victims in the center of Shali. The total number of deaths is estimated at more than 300 people, of whom no more than 20 were Chechen fighters. Snipers also operated throughout the city which prohibited family members from collecting and burying the dead. According to the witness, the snipers also opened fire at the cemetery. The interviewee herself states that she witnessed bodies that had been torn apart and pieces of human flesh. She also states that people were not aware of the entry of Chechen units into the city. Her account is based largely on what she witnessed herself. During the interview, she provided the names of those who had been killed, as well as street names and house numbers.

The witness recalls that the shelling of the city continued the next day, that is, on January 10, 2000.

Another Shali resident also participated in the interview and reported that her 13-year-old grandson had not been allowed to pass through the Kavkaz-1 (Caucasus-1) post: the military had prohibited males over the age of ten from leaving the Republic.

According to the initial witness, this prohibition by the military extended over the following days too, and also applied to refugees and the wounded. During this time, the hospital was not operative in the city (it had been shelled on January 10). As a result, the wounded were transported to their homes, where doctors treated them locally while risking being shot at as they drove through the streets. A hiatus in the attacks only came approximately three or four days after the initial attack.

Comment from the Natalia Estemirova Documentation Center: the events described by the Shali resident occurred on January 9, 2000. It was a Sunday and the second day of celebrations marking the end of the month of Ramadan. Chechen units had entered the city during that evening. They blocked the Russian military in their places of deployment and encircled the Russian commandant’s office building. Negotiations between the two forces began and the Chechen units asked the Russian military to surrender. A relative calm was established in the city center just before dinner.