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March Today in Terrorism

March 19, 1999: Terrorists bomb crowded market in North Ossetia

On this day in 1999 52 people were killed and 168 wounded in a bombing at a crowded market in Vladkavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia.

VALADKAVKAZ, NORTH OSSETIA – Nations might want to think twice before acting in an aggressive manner towards neighbouring states.

You may remember hearing about the ‘Russian Empire‘. From 1721 to 1917 the land mass controlled by the Tsars got so big that it was labeled the third largest in history (after the British and the Mongol ones), including much of Eurasia and even into North America (if you recall Alaska used to be part of Russia and was purchased by the US only in 1867 – the same year Canada obtained its own independence!).

Peter the Great - Accomplishments, Reforms & Death - Biography
Tsar Peter the Great, looking to conquer more lands! (Photo: Public Domain)

Of course, once the Soviet Union was established the new polity kept most of the Tsarist territory (except Alaska of course!) and even expanded its influence into Eastern Europe (the Baltic States, Poland, etc.). This attempt also included areas like the Caucasus which did NOT want to be ruled by Moscow.

This led to acts of terrorism, even after the dissolution of the USSR and its replacement by Russia.

On this day in 1999

52 people were killed and 168 wounded in a bombing at a crowded market in Vladkavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, which was the scene of ethnic clashes between Ossetians and Ingush in the early 1990’s that culminated in the mass removals of Ingush and lingering bitterness. Criminal gangs and easy access to weapons worsened the problems.

I had just come out of the cellar when a powerful explosion went off. I sat down, and when I got up again I saw such a horrible picture.’

Local resident

The bombers were tried and convicted on December 15, 2003. Small solace to the victims and their families. The lesson here? Don’t invade other lands.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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