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The BBC's Orla Guerin in Moscow
"This time Chechen rebels really are to blame, analysts say"
 real 56k

Russian spokesman, Vladimir Andreyev
"The vast majority of Russians are sure Chechen terrorists are to blame"
 real 56k

Chechen spokesman, Roman Khalilov
"These bombs were used to gather public support for the war in Chechnya"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 03:01 GMT 04:01 UK
Moscow alert after 'Chechen' attack
Russian emergency services
Emergency services faced scenes of devastation
Security remains tight in Moscow in the aftermath of Tuesday's bomb attack, which killed seven people and injured 53 in a busy underpass.

Police and security forces have been keeping a close watch on public areas in the capital and have stepped up checks on visitors' documents.

The Interior Ministry has released a description of two suspects, both described as being in their 20s and apparently from the Caucasus region.

The testimony from several witnesses who were able to answer questions in hospital was 100% Chechnya

Yuri Luzhkov, mayor of Moscow
Officials believe Chechen rebels are behind the bombing, due to the timing of the blast close to the anniversary of the rebel capture of Grozny in 1996.

According to some witnesses, the two suspects were seen leaving a bag close to one of the many stalls in the underpass and hurrying away.

Moscow's mayor Yuri Luzhkov said he believed there was an "obvious Chechen connection" to the blast.

"The testimony from several witnesses who were able to answer questions in hospital was 100% Chechnya", he said, speaking on Russian television.

Bomb warning

Chechen rebels have repeatedly warned Russia that they would intensify their bombing campaign unless Moscow ended it military action against the republic.

However Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov offered his condolences to the families of the the dead and injured, saying the bomb had nothing to do with Chechnya.

"Neither the regular Chechen forces, nor special services, nor the warlords have anything to do with the explosion," he said, speaking to a French news agency.

The bomb went off during rush hour in one of the city's busiest subways, in Pushkin Square.

Smoke poured out of the underpass in the immediate aftermath as dozens of people emerged bleeding and with blackened faces.

Utter confusion

Amid scenes of utter confusion, crowds milled about while emergency services gave urgent treatment to badly injured people lying in the road.

One woman was carried to an ambulance, her flesh burned and bleeding. Another lay on the pavement, screaming as ambulance men bandaged her legs.

Smoke pours from the subway
Smoke pours from the subway
A second bomb was found and defused near the scene of the blast.

"We heard a bang and the lights went out. I was hit by the blast wave," said Natalya Zulumatova.

"There was smoke all over the place. We all managed to get out in the smoke. I saw many injured people."

President Vladimir Putin has personally taken charge of the investigation, after calling a meeting of top security and defence ministers.

Emergency services have now finished clearing debris from the scene of the explosion, and work is underway to repair structural damage.


The BBC's Orla Guerin in Moscow says there has been renewed anxiety in Russia recently over the threat of domestic terrorism.

Russian bombs
31 Aug 1999: Bomb in a shopping centre near the Kremlin
9 Sept: Moscow apartment block bombed, 94 killed, more than 200 injured
13 Sept: Apartment building bombed, 118 killed
16 Sept: Bomb at an apartment block in Volgadonsk in southern Russia

Russian forces invaded Chechnya last year with the intention of suppressing separatist muslim guerillas blamed for a series of bomb attacks in Russia and Dagestan.

Security forces have been on high alert for the last few days, fearing an attack around the time of two anniversaries which fall in August.

On 6 August 1996 rebels captured the Chechen capital Grozny in the first Chechen war - a day they call independence day.

And the first anniversary of renewed hostilities between the Russian army and Chechen rebels comes at the end of the month.

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See also:

08 Aug 00 | Europe
In pictures: Moscow's bomb horror
17 Sep 99 | Europe
The blasts which shook Russia
16 Mar 00 | Europe
Russia charges bombing suspects
20 Sep 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Fear and hatred in Moscow
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