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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Bomb traces in both Russian jets
Rescuers at Tu-134 crash site in Tula region
In both cases debris was scattered over a wide area
Traces of explosive have now been found in the wreckage of both passenger jets which crashed earlier this week, Russian investigators say.

The two Tupolev airliners crashed almost simultaneously on Tuesday in southern Russia, hundreds of miles apart, killing 89 passengers and crew.

The FSB security service had already announced the discovery of traces of hexogen among the remains of one jet.

Now it says the explosive has been found in the remains of the other.

After finding explosives traces on one plane, a Sibir Airlines Tu-154, on Friday, Russian officials described what had happened as a terrorist attack.

They also said the pilot had sent out a hijack alert just before the plane crashed, Russian media report.

FSB spokesman Sergei Ignachenko said on Saturday: "Additional examination of the fragments of the Tu-134 aircraft which crashed on Tuesday... has revealed traces of hexogen."

Women suspects

The two airliners took off within minutes of each other from Domodedovo airport in Moscow.

1. Domodedovo Airport
1735: A Sibir Airlines Tu-154 bound for Sochi departs
1815: A Volga-Aviaexpress Tu-134 leaves for Volgograd
1856: Contact lost with Tu-134
1859: Contact lost with Tu-154
2. Tula region
Wreckage from Tu-134 found near the village of Buchalki soon after contact is lost
3. Rostov-on-Don
0400 (approx): Wreckage from Tu-154 found
(All times in GMT)

Reports say investigations are focusing on two women passengers, believed to be from the restive territory of Chechnya, where presidential elections are being held on Sunday.

Investigators say no-one has come forward to claim the women's bodies.

Officials had warned that Chechen separatist rebels could resort to terrorism to try to undermine Sunday's voting.

Several suicide bombings in recent years have been carried out by Chechen women who lost husbands or brothers during the conflict in the southern republic over the past decade.

Russian officials have repeatedly contended that Chechen rebels receive help from foreign organisations, including al-Qaeda.

An obscure Islamist group has claimed responsibility for attacking both planes in a website statement.

The Islambouli Brigades said it would continue operations "until the killings of our Muslim brothers in Chechnya cease".

Russian officials have not commented on the claim. A group of the same name claimed recent militant attacks in Pakistan.

Hexogen, more widely known as RDX, was identified as the explosive in a series of apartment building bombings that killed some 300 people in Moscow and other cities in 1999.

The attacks were widely blamed on Chechen separatists.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Damian Grammaticas
"It now seems certain that this was a co-ordinated terrorist attack"



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