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Russia: Scores Of Casualties In Moscow Blast

Moscow, 8 August 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russian officials say at least seven people died in a bomb blast in a pedestrian passageway in central Moscow today and over 50 were injured. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has said the blast in an underground pedestrian passage at Tverskaya Street on Pushkin Square may be the work of Chechen rebels. Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has denied involvement by rebel forces in the blast. No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Moscow police have denied earlier reports that police defused a second explosive device near the scene of the blast just minutes after the explosion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called an immediate emergency meeting of top security and defense officials over the incident.

The blast comes a day after Russian security forces had been on alert in case of possible attacks by Chechen separatists to mark the Aug. 6, 1996 anniversary of the rebels' capture of the Chechen capital of Grozny.