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Jehadis strike against Russia

Jehadis strike against Russia

Author: Agencies/Kaspiisk, Russia
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 10, 2002

A remote-controlled mine blast tore through the main street of a Southern Russian town near breakaway Chechnya on Thursday, killing at least 26 people and injuring about 100, during celebrations marking the allied victory over the Nazis, the officials said.

The victims included children, veterans and musicians in a military band marching down Lenin street in the Caspian Sea port of Kaspiisk toward the town cemetery to lay wreaths at the tomb of the unknown soldier. A mangled drum heaped with flowers lay next to the abandoned horns and an empty boot, in footage shown on NTV television. Streams of blood trickled down the pocked, tree-lined road. Thursday's blast came while Russia was in a buoyant, patriotic mood thanks to parades and celebrations nationwide to mark the Victory Day, one of Russia's most crucial holidays.

Thousands of troops marched across Red Square past Russian President Vladimir Putin and aging World War II veterans, while triumphant music and films filled the airwaves and streets were blanketed in building-size banners. Putin, right after giving a speech during the Red Square parade, convened an emergency meeting in the Kremlin of his top law enforcement and defense officials about the blast and appointed the head of the federal security service to oversee the investigation.

"I think there are few people who doubt this was a terrorist act," he said. At a reception later, he said, "today is the most dear holiday for our people. Today's act was committed by scum for whom nothing is sacred. We have the right to view (the perpetrators) as we view Nazis, as those whose purpose is to sow death and kill. Bu however difficult the tasks before us today, they will be solved." He asked those gathered to hold a moment of silence for the blast victims. The head of the Dagestan region Magomedali Magomedov told reporters that at least 20 people were killed and 100 injured.

The center of Kaspiisk was cordoned off and swarming with security agents, and rescue workers. Sappers were searching for other mines in the area. The Itar-Tass news agency reported that the city's hospital was overflowing with injured and medics were appealing for blood donations.

In Chechnya, meanwhile, rebels fired on a stadium in the capital Grozny on Thursday, where Russian forces and Chechen civilians were holding the Victory Day celebrations, wounding one police officer, Russian news reports said.
 
The federal troops in Chechnya have been on high alert for holiday-related attacks. Dagestan sees frequent small-scale bombings and other unrest, often spillover violence from the war in Chechnya. Kaspiisk suffered a huge bombing in November in 1996 that killed 68 people, when it tore through an apartment building housing Russian border guards. Officials never determined who was responsible for the blast, but many blamed it on Chechen rebels. Kaspiisk, north of the border with Azerbaijan, is home to a large number of Russian border guards.
 


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