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The BBC's James Coomarasamy
"The attack bears all the hallmarks of a settling of scores"
 real 28k

Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Arrests over Moscow blast

Russian police have arrested at least two men in connection with a bomb blast that injured 16 people in central Moscow.

Just before dawn on Thursday a man threw a grenade into a group in Sukharevskaya Square and then escaped in a car.

The square is one of the many areas in Moscow frequented by prostitutes and pimps who stand around waiting for clients.

Fifteen of the victims are women, thought to be prostitutes.

They were taken to the hospital with sharpnel and blast wounds.

A police official told the AP news agency that the attack could be linked to organised crime, with gangs battling for control of the prostitution racket.

'Caucasian' link

But the official also said the blast might be linked to the war in Chechnya, where Russian forces are battling Islamic rebels.

Putin lays a wreath
President Putin laid a wreath at the site of an explosion in August
A spokesman from Moscow police told the Russian Itar-Tass news agency that "a person with Caucasian looks" hurled the grenade.

The Caucasus region includes separatist Chechnya.

Russian officials have blamed earlier bomb blasts in Moscow and other cities on Chechens.

Series of explosions

In August, a bomb at a central Moscow subway station killed 12 people and injured more than 100.

Last year, a series of explosions in apartments killed nearly 300 people across Russia.

On Monday, two people were killed in a bomb blast in Ryazan city, sited some 200km (125 miles) from Moscow.

The authorities said the blast was linked to a settling of accounts between Afghan and Caucasian traders.

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07 Sep 00 | Europe
Russia's gang warfare
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