Aiza Gazuyeva

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Aiza Gazuyeva (also transliterated 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 General Gaidar Gadzhiyev (or Geidar Gadzhiev), commandant of the 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][5]

Not much is known for sure about Gazuyeva, a semi-legendary figure in Chechnya, who at the time of her death was either 18[6] or 20 years old.[7] It is said that she had lost a husband (they were married only for two months), two brothers, and a cousin in the war before her spontaneous revenge attack.[8] 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 the Russian troops near their family home. Gadzhiyev, an ethnic Avar military officer commonly accused by locals of atrocities against civilians, reportedly summoned Gazuyeva to witness the death of her arrested husband,[8][9] brutally killing him with a knife and then pulling her head into the gaping stomach wound.[7] According to the other version, the general told Gazuyeva that he killed her husband with his own hands during an interrogation.[1][10]

On November 29, 2001, Gazuyeva blew herself up with a bundle of hand grenades after she approached the general and a group of other Russian soldiers in front of the military commandant's office (Rus. komendatura). Reportedly, her last words were: "Do you recognize me?",[9] to which Gadzhiyev replied: "I have no time to talk to you!"[8] - after the general's answer, Gazuyeva detonated the grenades hidden under her clothes.[11] Gazuyeva died instantly, her head blown off several meters away.[7] Gadzhiyev, who was wearing a flak jacket, was critically wounded (losing both of his eyes[5] and one arm) and died of his injuries days later. Two other Russian soldiers were also killed in the blast and two more were injured.[8]

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 the nearby 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).[12]

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