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Mar 31, 2010 12:38 PM by Katie Durio

Two More Suicide Bomber Attacks in Moscow This Morning

 

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

Russia.

      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

Nurgaliyev said.

      "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,

Nurgaliyev said.

      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

militants.

      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

leaders.

      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.

 

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