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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Bombers 'ready to target Russia'
Beslan hostage-taker
Some of the attackers at Beslan were wearing explosive belts
More than 80 suicide attackers have been trained on foreign soil to launch strikes in Russia, according to the country's security services chief.

During a debate on national security, Nikolai Patrushev told parliament that some attackers had been "neutralised".

But he said he could not guarantee there would be no further attacks.

Suicide bombers have been responsible for many attacks in Russia, including the bombing of two planes in August, which killed more than 90 people.

Mr Patrushev's comments came shortly before a Russian parliament debate on President Vladimir Putin's bill calling for a radical overhaul of the way Russia is run, following the Beslan school siege.

Mr Putin wants to abolish direct elections for regional governors, saying this will help security.

Critics say he is undermining the constitution and depriving Russians of their democratic rights.

Beslan mastermind

Mr Patrushev, the head of the FSB security service, called for the creation of a single permanent anti-terrorist centre.

He told Duma deputies on Friday: "We have established there are more than 80 suicide attackers trained abroad who are to be sent to Russia to carry out terrorist acts.

Detaining relatives and showing terrorists what may happen to their relatives could help save people's lives
Vladimir Ustinov,
Prosecutor General
"We don't know what route they might take to get into Russia, and this creates definite problems."

He did not explain how the FSB had gathered the information on potential attackers.

He said the training of fighters and suicide bombers "was carried out through secret religious and military-religious organisations, located in a number of eastern states".

Mr Patrushev would not rule out the possibility of future attacks.

"In order to confidently say there will be no terrorist acts, a comprehensive system of measures must be in operation and it has to operate precisely. So far such a system has not been created in our country."

He also said the September school hostage drama in Beslan, North Ossetia, was carried out by Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who has already claimed responsibility for the attack, blaming Russia for the bloodshed.

The officially death toll for the siege was 360, including 172 child hostages and 30 members of the gang which targeted the school. Unofficial estimates put the number of victims higher.

"For the secret services it is nakedly clear that the ideologists of the terrorist attacks in the North Caucasus are [Chechen separatist leader Aslan] Maskhadov and Basayev and men from al-Qaeda. As for the Beslan attack in particular, it was organised by Basayev," he said.


Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov told the Duma that existing legislation made it hard to fight terrorism effectively.

He suggested detaining relatives and confiscating finances could be efficient deterrents for would-be suicide bombers.

"Detaining relatives and showing terrorists what may happen to their relatives could help save people's lives, so let's not close our eyes or put a diplomatic face on it," AP quoted him as saying.

"When you live by the sword, you die by the sword."

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