Mar 31, 2010 12:38 PM by Katie Durio
MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP) - Two suicide bombers targeted
authorities in southern Russia on Wednesday, killing 12 people,
including nine police officers. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said
the blasts may have been organized by the same militants who
attacked the Moscow subway.
The attacks Wednesday came after the powerful former president
had vowed to "drag out of the sewer" the terrorists who plotted
Monday's twin subway bombings, which killed 39 people and injured
scores of commuters during rush hour.
Wednesday's blasts struck in Dagestan, one of the provinces in
Russia's volatile North Caucasus that have been destabilized by
near-daily bombings and other raids by Islamic militants.
"I don't rule out that this is one and the same gang," Putin
said at a televised Cabinet meeting. President Dmitry Medvedev
later called the attacks "links of the same chain."
No one has claimed responsibility for either of the attacks.
The subway bombings in Moscow were first suicide attacks in the
Russian capital in six years and shocked a country that had grown
accustomed to having such violence confined to its restive southern
corner. They followed a warning from an Islamic militant leader
that the militants would bring their struggle to the heart of
Moscow police have been on high alert since the subway attacks,
beefing up roadblocks on highways leading into the city. The
agency's chief said Wednesday that thousands of officers have been
sent to patrol the subway, check on migrants from southern
provinces and inspect warehouses that could hold arms caches.
Families and friends mourned subway victims at funerals around
Moscow on Wednesday, sobbing especially for young people like Maxim
Mareyev, a 20-year-old student.
In Wednesday's attack, a suicide bomber in a car detonated
explosives when police tried to stop the car in the town of Kizlyar
near Dagestan's border with Chechnya, Interior Minister Rashid
"Traffic police followed the car and almost caught up - at that
time the blast hit," Nurgaliyev said.
As investigators and residents gathered around the scene of the
blast, a second bomber wearing a police uniform approached and set
off explosives, killing the town's police chief among others,
In addition to the dead, at least 23 other people were injured,
authorities said. Windows were blown out and bricks tumbled down at
a school and a police station nearby.
Grainy cell phone video footage posted on the life.ru news
portal showed the moment of the second blast, with officials
wandering past a destroyed building before a loud clap rings out
and smoke rises in the distance. Television pictures later showed a
few gutted cars, damaged buildings and a 2-meter (six-foot) deep
crater in the road.
Police and security services are a frequent target because they
represent the Kremlin - the militants' ideological enemy - but also
because of their heavy-handed tactics. Police have been accused of
involvement in many killings, kidnappings and beatings in the North
Caucasus, angering residents and swelling the ranks of Islamic
A report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies
said 916 people died in the North Caucasus in 2009 in violence
related to the clashes, up from 586 in 2008. Another monitoring
group, the Caucasian Knot, reported the region suffered 172
terrorist attacks last year, killing 280 people in Chechnya, 319 in
Ingushetia and 263 in Dagestan.
In January in Makhachkala, Dagestan's capital, a suicide bomber
blew up a car at a police station, killing six officers. In August,
24 people died and more than 200 were injured when a man crashed a
bomb-laden van into the police station in Nazran, Ingushetia.
The bloodshed has continued despite Kremlin efforts to stem it.
Medvedev, who claims the militants have spread through the North
Caucasus "like a cancerous tumor," this year appointed a deputy
prime minister to oversee the troubled region and address the root
causes of terrorism, including dire poverty and corruption.
Russian authorities suspect that rebels from the North Caucasus
masterminded the Moscow subway attacks, possibly in retaliation for
the recent police killings of several high-profile militant
Monday's subway bombings, carried out by two women, were the
first terrorist attacks in Moscow since 2004.
The first blast struck the Lubyanka station in central Moscow,
beneath the headquarters of the Federal Security Service or FSB,
the KGB's main successor agency. The FSB is a symbol of power under
Putin, a former KGB officer who headed the agency before his
election as president in 2000.
About 45 minutes later, a second blast hit the Park Kultury
station on the same subway line, which is near the renowned Gorky
Park. In both cases, the bombs were detonated as the trains pulled
into the stations and the doors were opening.
Associated Press writers David Nowak in Moscow and Sergei
Venyavsky in Rostov-on-Don contributed to this report.