Aiza Gazuyeva

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Aiza Gazuyeva (also transliterated as Gazueva and variably known as Aizan, Elza, Luisa or Luiza) was a young Chechen woman who became the first shahidka (Chechen female suicide bomber).[1] In November 2001, Gazuyeva assassinated through suicide attack the Russian Army General Gaidar Gadzhiyev, commandant of Urus-Martan military district in Chechnya, the man she believed was directly responsible the death of her husband.[2][3] This spontaneous attack was unclaimed by the Chechen rebels.[4]

Not much is known for sure about Gazuyeva, who became a semi-legendary figure in Chechnya and who at the time of her death was either 18[5] or 20 years old.[6] It is said that she had lost a husband (they were married only for two months), two brothers, and a cousin (16 relatives in all[3]) in the war before her spontaneous revenge attack.[7] In one traumatic event, her disabled brother (who had lost both legs to a land mine in the first war) was shot dead without reason by Russian troops near their family home. Gadzhiyev, commonly accused by locals of atrocities against civilians, allegedly summoned Gazuyeva to witness the death of her arrested husband,[7][8] brutally killing him with a knife and then pulling her head into the gaping stomach wound.[6] According to another version, the general told Gazuyeva that he killed her husband with his own hands during an interrogation.[1][9]

On November 29, 2001, Gazuyeva blew herself up with a bundle of hand grenades after she approached a group of Russian soldiers including the general in front of the military commandant's office (Rus. komendatura). Reportedly, her last words were: "Do you recognize me?"[8] or "Do you still remember me?"[3] to which Gadzhiyev replied: "I have no time to talk to you!"[7] - after the general's answer, Gazuyeva detonated the grenades hidden under her clothes.[10] Gazuyeva died instantly and her head blown off several meters away.[6] Gadzhiyev, who was wearing a flak jacket, was critically wounded (reportedly losing both of his eyes and one arm) and died of his injuries days later.[7] The general's two bodyguards[3] were also killed in the blast, and two other Russian soldiers were injured.[7] Some reports say one was killed and three were injured,[10] or that three were killed.

The incident was followed by a wave of severe reprisals by federal forces against family of Aiza Gazuyeva and the local population. The soldiers blew up the home of Gazuyeva and her parents, as well as the houses belonging to at least four other families, while several men from Gazuyev's family were detained and beaten. Soon after the attack, 72 people were detained in the city of Urus-Martan and some of them were reported to having been "disappeared". One day after the general's assassination, several people were detained in Urus-Martanovsky District's village of Alkhan-Yurt and some of them were later found murdered (on December 13, disfigured bodies of several men killed by explosive devices were discovered in Chechnya and later identified as residents of three villages in the Urus-Martan region who had disappeared early in December, including four who were among those detained in Alkhan-Yurt: Lom-Ali Yunusov, his relative Musa Yunusov, Shamil Dzhemaldayev and Aslan Taramov).[11]

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