Russia fears terrorist wave as bombs kill 12
Published 01/04/2010 | 05:00
A team of suicide bombers struck Russia for the second time in a week yesterday, taking the overall death toll to 51 and increasing fears that an Islamist terrorist campaign is in full swing.
Two bombers, one disguised as a police officer, blew themselves up, killing 12 people in the southern republic of Dagestan. Nine victims were policemen.
It came two days after a pair of female suicide bombers blew themselves up in the Moscow metro, killing 39 people.
The attack came as a Chechen militant leader claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings on Moscow's subway, which killed 39 people and injured scores of others.
Doku Umarov, who leads Islamic militants in Chechnya and nearby regions of Russia's North Caucasus, said in a statement posted on a pro-rebel website that Monday's attacks were an act of revenge for the killing of civilians by Russian security forces.
He said that attacks on Russian cities would continue.
Russian authorities have said the bombings, the first terror attacks in Moscow in six years, were carried out by militants from the North Caucasus region.
Last night Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he suspected the same "gang" might be behind both attacks, while President Dmitry Medvedev said the attacks were "all links in one chain".
Russian investigators have already said that they feared 19 "black widow" suicide bombers were at large and looking for new targets. "This is a crime against Russia," said Mr Putin. "The special services are at work."
Rashid Nurgaliyev, the interior minister, ordered security across Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim region, to be stepped up.
"The terrorists will go after any targets," he said.
"We need to pay attention to fundamental everyday objects such as cinemas, schools, colleges and universities."
Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia's security council, accused Georgia of backing Islamist radicals in North Caucasus and said he would be investigating whether there was any Georgian link to the Moscow metro attacks.
Analysts said it was unclear how seriously his comments should be taken. He said that traffic police in the Dagestani town of Kizlyar had chased a man driving a Jeep erratically on Wednesday morning. They had almost caught up with him, he added, when the vehicle exploded, killing the two policemen in pursuit.
Just over half an hour later, as an ambulance, locals and other police arrived, a man in the uniform of a senior police lieutenant blew himself up. More than 20 people were injured.
Kizlyar is some 1,000 miles south of Moscow, close to Chechnya.
Similar attacks in the region are fairly frequent but few doubt that the suicide bombing was timed to keep ordinary Russians on edge. (© Daily Telegraph, London)