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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Deadly blast hits Russian parade
Russian investigators examine the site of the explosion
34 were killed and 150 wounded in the blast
Russian officials say 34 people, including 12 children, have been killed in an explosion in a southern Russian town during a parade for the country's Victory Day.

The blast ripped through the main street of the town of Kaspiysk in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan as soldiers and civilians marched to commemorate the 57th anniversary of Russian victory in World War II.

The scene is horrifying, there are body parts everywhere

Russian TV correspondent
Security officials say a mine hidden in shrubbery on the side of the town's Lenin Street blew up as a military band passed.

Police in Dagestan, the region bordering the breakaway republic of Chechnya, said that 150 people had been injured in the explosion.

'Mound of bodies'

The victims included children, military veterans and musicians, as well as at least 19 soldiers said to be among the dead.

This crime today was committed by scum who hold nothing sacred

Russian President Vladimir Putin
"When I got there, I saw a mound of bodies, people in panic," said Magomad Akhmedov, a 35-year-old teacher.

"The scene is horrifying. There are body parts everywhere and an overpowering smell of blood," a correspondent for Russia's NTV station said.

The town's medical services were overwhelmed and many of the injured were taken to the regional capital Makhachkala, 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Kaspiysk.


"I think that few people can have any doubt about this being an act of terrorism," said Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was addressing a rally in Moscow's Red Square at the time of the blast.

Musical instruments lie on the road after blast in Kaspiysk, Dagestan
The mine exploded as a military band passed
He said the act on "the most dear of all holidays... was committed by scum who hold nothing sacred," comparing those behind the suspected attack to Nazis.

Russian police told the Reuters news agency that nuts, bolts and nails were packed into the mine to cause maximum injury.

New tactic?

Mr Putin instructed the director of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), Nikolai Patrushev, to fly to Dagestan immediately to coordinate an investigation into the incident.

The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov in Moscow says Russians are shocked at the incident on one of the country's most solemn and sacred occasions.

Our correspondent says mines on roadsides have been widely used to target Russian troops in Chechnya, and their use against a parade which included civilians outside the war-torn province would be a departure from previous tactics.

So far no one has claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Grozny attack

In a separate incident, civilians and Russian forces came under attack at a Victory Day parade in a stadium in the Chechen capital, Grozny.

Putin at World War II Victory Day celebrations
Victory Day is one of Russia's most revered occasions
Police officials said shots had been fired from grenade launchers.

One police officer is reported to have been wounded.

Earlier reports said that a mine disposal unit had detonated a landmine found at the stadium before the Victory Day events got under way.

Drawn-out war

Dagestan sees frequent small-scale bombings and other unrest, often related to the 31-month war between separatist rebels and Russian forces in the neighbouring breakaway region of Chechnya.

Kaspiysk suffered a large bomb attack in November 1996.

Sixty-eight people were killed when an explosion tore through an apartment building housing Russian border guards.

The cause of the blast was never determined, but many blamed it on Chechen rebels.

The BBC's Steve Rosenburg
"It was supposed to be a celebration but turned into a nightmare"
Oxana Antonenko, strategic analyst
"It's going to be a long term issue"
Galina Yemeli-anova of the Centre for Russian and Ea
"There is anti-western feeling"
See also:

09 May 02 | Europe
In pictures: Russia's Victory Day
25 Apr 02 | Europe
Russia 'kills' Chechen warlord
15 Nov 01 | Europe
Russia tries Chechen warlord
06 Sep 01 | Europe
Chechnya's decade of disaster
16 Mar 00 | Europe
The first bloody battle
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