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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Russia mourns hospital victims
Grieving women attend mass at hospital site
Grieving relatives have attended a mass at the bomb site
Russian troops and civilians in southern Russia are observing a day of mourning for the 50 people killed in Friday's suicide bombing at a military hospital.

The search for survivors at Mozdok in North Ossetia was abandoned on Sunday.

Officials have dedicated a memorial stone in the ruins of the hospital, which was flattened when a lorry laden with explosives was driven to the entrance and detonated.

To commit such a crime against people who are receiving treatment, against a medical establishment contradicts all principles of law, morality and humanity
President Vladimir Putin
Flags in the regional capital, Vladikavkaz, were flying at half mast, and staff arriving at work began their day by observing silence for the victims.

More funerals of the victims were being held on Monday. More than 60 people are still in hospital, some critically ill.

As the investigation continues into who ordered the bombing, President Vladimir Putin has demanded immediate action by the military to prevent any further attacks.

Local commanders in the North Caucasus say strict checks are now in place at all military facilities.

MOZDOK ATTACK

The main military hospital in Vladikavkaz has been sealed off, and access refused to all civilians.

Car parks are to be moved away from buildings used by Russian troops.

Mr Putin has added his voice to critics who say the bombing should never have happened.

"The laxity that we have seen in a series of cases, and which is conducive to crimes and terrorist acts, has gone beyond all bounds," he said.

"This is, of course, a special crime, a crime of special brutality, of special cynicism.

"To commit such a crime against people who are receiving treatment, against a medical establishment, against medical personnel, against wounded people, contradicts all principles of law, morality and humanity."

Wrecked hospital
The suicide bombers detonated a lorry-load of explosives
Mr Putin has vowed that his policy on Chechnya remains unchanged, in the run-up to elections this October which are not recognised by separatist rebels.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow says others are warning that more attacks are likely ahead of the vote.

Two suspects have been detained in connection with the hospital attack. Police believe they may be the men who sold the truck to the suicide bomber.

Investigators hope the suspects may lead them to whoever organised the attack.

Deadly attacks

The Mozdok attack was the latest in a series of suicide bombings in and around Chechnya and in Moscow that have killed more than 150 people since May.

Friday's bomb was the bloodiest since May, when a truck bomb attack in Chechnya killed 60 people.

Last month, 15 people were killed at a rock concert in Moscow when two female bombers blew themselves up.

Russian forces pulled out of Chechnya in 1996 after a two-year war that left separatists in charge, but returned three years later after a string of bombings blamed on Chechen rebels.




SEE ALSO:
Bomb expert dies in Moscow blast
10 Jul 03  |  Europe
Blast hits Chechen capital
20 Jun 03  |  Europe
Chechnya's suicide battalions
05 Jul 03  |  Europe
Unending Chechen nightmare
12 May 03  |  Europe


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