I, Libhan Bazaeva, lived in Grozny, at 56 Kaluga Street. After the Staropromyslovskii District of Grozny was bombed and had ground-to ground missiles fired into it, staying in the city was a death sentence and our whole family decided to leave. On radio and television, on the ORT and RTR television channels, there were announcements that humanitarian corridors would be opened on 29 October for refugees to leave.
Because there was such massive bombing of the city, we left on 26
October and went to stay with relatives in Gehi until 29 October.
weeks there were announcements on radio and television that a corridor for refugees would be opened on 29 October. That day, after 5 o’clock in the morning, we drove along the highway leading to Nazran. When we arrived at our destination our cars were Nos. 384 and 385 in the column. A queue of cars formed behind us which was 3-4 times longer than what was ahead. We estimated that there were far more than 1,000 vehicles in the column. It consisted of cars, trucks, and large and small buses.
People were asking the soldiers when the corridor would be opened. At first they said it would be at 9 o’clock, but then their answers became vaguer. They said they did not know themselves and their officer had driven off to find out what was happening and they were just waiting for their orders. Much later, a soldier, probably an officer, came out to a crowd of people right beside the checkpoint and stated that the corridor would not be opened today and it was not known when it would be. In a very commanding tone he said people should leave the checkpoint immediately and clear the road. People were indignant and confused and slowly began to turn their vehicles round. The traffic moved very slowly. It was difficult, because the vehicles were in 3 rows, so every
now and then there were traffic jams.
The rain that had been drizzling since early morning, stopped, the
sky cleared and the sun came out. It was after 11 o’clock when our cars drove past Hambi-irzi and were approaching Shaami-Yurt. We were travelling in 2 cars: a white Lada and a dark blue UAZ off-roader. I was in the first car with my husband and his friend, and my son and 2 of my husband’s nephews and the wife of one of them were in the second. Our UAZ was several cars behind us. When we came to a small bridge near Shaami-Yurt, we suddenly heard bangs and explosions. Our car was thrown to the left side of the road. A mass of broken glass, stones and earth hit me from the back through the rear window. We jumped out. I realised that the first of 4 bombs had fallen behind our car and, as my son and his cousins were driving behind us, I rushed back to look for him. I saw that anyone still able to move had either taken cover in the roadside ditches or was running over the fields away from the highway. I was probably in shock, because I felt no fear, no horror at that moment. I just wanted to reach my son, to find his car. As I was breathlessly running up that road I saw, first, a red Lada with a man sitting in the driver’s seat, killed or wounded, and a woman next to him crying for help. Next I saw a big LAZ-type bus. The back, almost a third of it, was completely severed and the bodies of dead and injured
people were lying in the road. In the front part of the bus people, wounded or dead, were motionless in the seats. Next there was a dark grey vehicle that looked like an ambulance. Its top had been opened, like a tin can. Alongside these 2 vehicles, spread over the whole width of the road, were bodies, many of them ripped into pieces. I saw severed arms and legs. Further along, on the right side of the road, was a big Kamaz truck. I could not see what was in the back but blood was pouring out of the slits in the side of it. I must have run about 100 metres, and in that stretch of the road as I recall I saw 40 or 50 dead bodies.
When I reached my son’s car, I saw him climbing out of the roadside ditch with an injured child in his arms. It was a little girl aged between 7 and 9. I saw she was fatally wounded. The whole of the back of her head was shattered. He put her in his car and shouted to me, „Mum, I’ll take her to the hospital in Achkhoy-Martan.” A young man looked out of the ditch and shouted, „There is another injured girl: take her too.”
My son and his cousins picked the wounded girl up and carried her to the car as well. The boy who had pointed her out also had an arm injury but he was able to stand. They put him in the car too, quickly turned and headed towards Achkhoy-Martan. It all happened very quickly. I only had time to shout to them that we were alive but our rear tyres had een punctured.
They drove off with the wounded and I ran back to our car, again
seeing dead and wounded people in the road. We put an old lady in our car who was running about looking for help, and decided to drive off the road because the planes might come back at any moment. We managed somehow to drive on the hubs to Shaami-Yurt and entered the village. The villagers rushed out to help us, quickly found 2 wheels somewhere and replaced our damaged ones. After that we took a country road to Gehi, from where we had set out in the morning. There had been no time to arrange anything with my son, but we hoped that when he left the Achkhoy-Martan hospital he would have the sense to come
to Gehi without driving on the highway. We waited and waited, but
there was no sign of him. Meanwhile, we saw planes fly back again and again over the highway to bomb almost every 10-15 minutes. We waiting for 6 hours in an agony of suspense and inwardly prepared ourselves for the worst. When it was already dark and the planes had stopped flying, after 7 o’clock in the evening, they appeared in the courtyard without a car and with their clothes in tatters. They told us what had happened.
After leaving the injured at the hospital, they went back to the highway, remembering that we had been left there with a damaged car. When they got to Hambi-irzi, they saw planes flying back over them, jumped out of the car and took cover in the ditch, and people in other cars who had come back for us jumped out too.
The first bomb destroyed our car, and a second fell on the ditch on the opposite side of the road where people from other cars were trying to hide. They realised the planes would come back again and again to hunt people down, and started dashing from one pit to another towards Hambi-irzi. Like that, they made it to Hambi-irzi and hid in the basement of a building there. They aited until 6.00 pm for the bombing to stop, and after that came back to Gehi on foot. Our car had been completely wrecked by a direct hit and of course all our possessions, like clothes and bedding, had been
That is how we miraculously survived among hundreds of other people who were killed.
The bombing of the „humanitarian corridor” for refugees started
at 11.30 in the morning and went on until after 6.00 pm.
Testimony collected by staff
Human Rights Center „Memorial“
Human Rights Center „Memorial“