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The Shatoy ambush
Part of First Chechen War
Download - 2022-03-12T215917.043.jpg
DateApril 16, 1996
LocationYaryshmardy, Chechnya
Result Chechen victory
Flag of Russia.svg Russia Flag of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.svg Chechnya
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Russia.svg Pyotr Terzovets Flag of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.svg Ruslan Gelayev
Flag of Jihad.svg Ibn al-Khattab
Units involved

Russian Armed Forces

  • 245th Motor Rifle Regiment
    • 2nd Battalion
Chechen Fighters
Chechen Mujahideen
300+ soldiers 43 fighters
Casualties and losses
26 killed
52 wounded
27 armoured vehicles destroyed
3 killed
6 wounded

The Shatoy ambush (known in Russia as the Battle of Yaryshmardy) was an April 16, 1996, attack by forces of the Arab-born commander Ibn al-Khattab near the town of Shatoy in the southern mountains of Chechnya, during the First Chechen War.


The attack wrecked the column of the Russian 2nd Battalion from the 245th Motor Rifle Regiment (MRR) and killed 53 servicemen and injured 52, according to the official Russian figures.[1] The first reports by the officials spoke of only 26 killed and 51 wounded.[2] According to the other sources, more than 70[3][4][5] to almost 100[6][7][8][9] to even 223[10] soldiers of the 245th MRR died in the ambush. A few civilians who were traveling with the convoy were also reportedly killed.[11]

According to the second-hand account by the Polish volunteer Mirosław Kuleba (aka Władysław Wilk/Mehmed Borz), Khattab's detachment of 43 men chose a "perfect ambush spot" with a ravine and a stream on one side and a forested slope on the other side of a serpentine mountain road: the rebels first let the Russian recon squad through and then detonated an IED under the leading tank; simultaneously, a volley of RPGs hit the unit's command vehicle, killing the Russian commander instantly, and the APC at the end the column - after this, the Chechens opened fire on the rest of the Russian unit. Kuleba wrote that the three-hour attack burned 27 armoured vehicles and trucks in the convoy and just 12 out of 199 Russian soldiers survived "the slaughter", while the rebel losses were only three killed and six wounded.[12]

According to the Russian book Chechenskiy Kapkan, up to 100 fighters ambushed the column of 30 Russian armoured vehicles, almost 100 soldiers were killed and "only eight escaped with their lives".[9] According to the U.S. book The Wolves of Islam, the destroyed convoy numbered 50 vehicles (trucks, fuel tankers, APCs and a mine-clearing T-80 tank)[13] and by Khattab's own count more than 200 soldiers were killed.


A video of the ambush and its aftermath, widely distributed and celebrated in Chechnya, featured Khattab "walking triumphantly down a line of blackened Russian corpses",[14] and gained him the early fame in Chechnya and a great notoriety in Russia.[15] The images of carnage also caused a new calls for the Russia's defence minister Pavel Grachev to resign,[7] while Russia suspended its limited troop withdrawal.


  1. Arab-born Chechen leader 'killed', The Daily Telegraph, 26 April 2002
  2. Chechen rebels kill 26 Russian soldiers in ambush, Interfax, 96 04 17
  3. KVASHNIN CALLS REPORTS THAT KHATTAB WAS WOUNDED "RUMORS.", The Jamestown Foundation, December 14, 2001
  4. Russia After Communism by Rick Fawn, Stephen White, 2002
  5. Realignments in Russian Foreign Policy by Rick Fawn, 2003
  6. Khatab: Islamic revolutionary, BBC News, 30 September 1999
  7. 7.0 7.1 KHATTAB KILLED, CLAIMS AN UNNAMED FSB OFFICIAL., The Jamestown Foundation, April 12, 2002
  8. Portrait of 2 Warlords, The Moscow Times, September 18, 1999
  9. 9.0 9.1 CHECHNYA: TWO FEDERAL INTERVENTIONS, Conflict Studies Research Centre, January 2000
  10. The Legacy of the Arab-Afghans: A Case Study ("estimates from Moscow")
  11. Did NSA Help Russia Target Dudayev?, CovertAction Quarterly, No. 61
  12. (Polish) Czeczeński Specnaz, Komandos, June 1997
  13. The Wolves of Islam: Russia and the Faces of Chechen Terror by Paul J. Murphy, 2004
  14. Obituary: Khattab, The Independent, May 1, 2002
  15. The Russo-Chechen War: A Threat to Stability in the Middle East and Eurasia?, Middle East Policy Council, March 2001

External links

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