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North Caucasus Link Suspected In Deadly Moscow Metro Attacks

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Blasts In Moscow Metroi
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March 29, 2010
Two separate blasts hit the Moscow metro, killing at least 36 people. The first blast tore through a metro car at the Lubyanka station, and shortly afterwards a second explosion occurred at the Park Kultury station.


WATCH: Scenes of chaos and confusion outside two Moscow metro stations. (Reuters video)

MOSCOW (RFE/RL) -- A day of mourning is being observed today for the 39 victims of the Moscow metro attacks.

The head of Russia's national security agency says insurgents linked to the North Caucasus region are suspected of carrying out the two bombings.

Emergency officials say two female suicide bombers blew themselves up on trains as they pulled into the Lubyanka and the Park Kultury stations about 30 minutes apart, during the morning rush hour on March 29. In addition to the 39 dead, some 64 others were injured. The two suicide bombers are not included in the general death toll.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev lays flowers in memory of the victims at the Lubyanka metro station.
Aleksandr Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), said during a televised meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the assessment of a North Caucasus connection was based on fragments of the suicide bombers' bodies.

"Our preliminary theory is that these terrorist attacks were carried out by terror groups linked to the North Caucasus region," he said. "We consider this the main theory."

Medvedev ordered security to be stepped up on transport across the country and vowed to continue the fight against terrorism "to the end."

"We're going to stay the course on suppressing terror in our country," he said. "We will continue operations against terrorists without hesitation, and until the very end."

Joined by his wife, Svetlana, and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, Medvedev placed a bouquet of red roses with a black ribbon on the platform at the Lubyanka metro station where one of the blasts took place.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the "terrorists" behind the March 29 attacks will be found and "destroyed."

WATCH: RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Irina Lagunina talks about official Russian reactions to major terrorist attacks in the past.


Flash Analysis - Moscow Metro Attacks (Reax)i
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March 29, 2010
After the Moscow metro attacks, RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Irina Lagunina talks about the pattern of official responses to terrorism.


Near Security Service's Headquarters

Emergency officials say more than 20 people were killed by the blast at the Lubyanka station shortly before 8 a.m. Those victims included people on the incoming train as well as on the platform. The headquarters of the FSB is located just above the station.

Pictures from surveillance cameras broadcast on television showed bodies lying on the station's platform, while witnesses spoke of panic.

"At the time of the blast I was transferring from Kuznetsky Most metro station to Lubyanka station," one man told RFE/RL's Russian Service. "I was going up the escalator when I heard a bang. It affected the door near the passage way, and a cloud of dust from the top covered the escalator, and people started running on the escalator, some were falling, scrambling.

Bodies and a destroyed carriage following the explosion at the Park Kultury metro station
"I also started running and exited at Lubyanka Square. There was an enormous amount of equipment, fire engines, police. Rescuers with stretchers were running out of the metro."

About 30 minutes later, the second blast went off, killing at least 14 more people at the Park Kultury metro station.

RFE/RL's Russian Service reports that ambulances and firefighters had difficulty making their way to the sites of the explosions because of morning traffic jams.

Retaliatory Attacks?

Duma deputy Viktor Ilyukhin -- the former head of the Duma's Security Committee -- told RFE/RL that he suspects the blasts were retaliation for the recent reported killings of militant leaders in the North Caucasus.

"I think there is a direct link between the explosions in Moscow and events in the North Caucasus, for several reasons," he said. "The FSB, together with Interior Ministry forces, have carried out a series of successful operations in the North Caucasus recently, during which several top [militant] leaders have been killed.

"I think that today those bandits have taken revenge on us for the operations that have killed those fighters in the North Caucasus."

Firemen remove victims from Lubyanka metro station.
Two leaders within the North Caucasus insurgency have been killed since the beginning of March.

Russian authorities and insurgents have both confirmed the killing of Anzor Astemirov -- also known as Amir Seyfullakh -- on March 24 in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria. Astemirov was the third-ranking figure within the insurgency leadership after Doku Umarov and Amir Magas.

It also has been confirmed by Russian authorities and insurgent websites that security forces in Ingushetia killed Said Buryatsky in a gun battle on March 7. Buryatsky, a Buryatia-born ideologist of jihad, had last year revived the Riyadus-Salikhiin suicide battalion, which was created by renegade field commander Shamil Basayev. Members of that battalion have carried out several major car bomb attacks in Ingushetia and Daghestan during the past 12 months.

Chechnya itself has seen a rise in violence in recent months as pro-Kremlin local authorities seek to clamp down on an uprising by militant Islamists.

Attacks Condemned


The international community has condemned the attacks.

An injured man makes a phone call outside the Park Kultury metro station.
In a statement, U.S. President Barack Obama said, "The American people stand united with the people of Russia in opposition to violent extremism and heinous terrorist attacks."

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso delivered a similar message, saying in a statement that "the European Union stands resolutely together with the Russian authorities in [their] efforts to counter terrorism in all its forms."

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pledged the alliance's commitment to cooperating with Russia in the fight against international terrorism, saying there "can be no justification for these kinds of attacks on innocent civilians."

Spike In Violence


Citing an improved security situation, Russia last year declared an end to a "counterterrorism" operation in Chechnya that has been going on for the past decade. But confidence in that declaration has been shaken by the recent spike in violence.

Meanwhile, increased violence in Russia's nearby majority-Muslim regions of Ingushetia and Daghestan also has raised concerns that unrest could spread.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts.

The website kavkazcenter.com, which is often used by Chechen separatists to post announcements, issued an article suggesting that the Russian security services were behind the blasts. The unsigned article argues that opposition to Putin is growing in Russian society, and that the regime is prepared to go to great lengths to hang on to power.

"Today, it is more and more evident that a moment of truth has come to the Russian society," the article said, adding that "anonymous terrorism" is one of the hallmarks of the Putin regime.

Vladimir Pribylovsky, an analyst at Moscow's Panorama political research group, warned RFE/RL against taking claims of responsibility at face value.

"We need to wait and see if anyone claims responsibility. But that won't prove anything," Pribylovsky said. "A claim of responsibility can be made by those who really are behind the explosion or those who're just interested in raising their profile."

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov (left) and President Dmitry Medvedev inspect the site of the blast at the Lubyanka station.
The seemingly coordinated metro blasts were the deadliest in Russia outside of the North Caucasus region since a double attack on two domestic Russian passenger planes in August 2004 that killed 72 people. Both of those planes had flown out of Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport.

The last confirmed terrorist attack against a Russian train was on November 27, when an explosion derailed the "Nevsky Express" -- a high-speed train traveling between Moscow and St. Petersburg -- with about 700 passengers on board. At least 26 people were killed and 100 injured when that train hurtled off the tracks near the town of Bologoye, about 320 kilometers from Moscow.

The last time the capital, Moscow, was targeted by a confirmed terrorist attack was in August 2004, when a suicide bomber blew herself up outside the Rizhskaya metro station, killing 10 people.

The most prominent terrorist attack in Moscow with confirmed involvement of North Caucasus insurgents was in October 2002, when Chechen militants -- both men and women -- seized several hundred hostages at a Moscow theater to demand an end to the war in Chechnya and the withdrawal of Russian troops.

The siege ended three days later, when Russian special forces released a knockout gas and stormed the theater. At least 129 civilians and 42 militants were killed.

written by Ron Synovitz and Liz Fuller, with RFE/RL's Russian Service and wire service reports
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by: Koba from: Washington, DC
March 29, 2010 13:07
What a tragedy! God bless their souls.

Let's hope this will not be used as a casus belli to launch a new 'campaign' in Ingushetia or Dagestan.
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
March 29, 2010 20:40
Unfortunately that's just what they will do.

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix, AZ, U.S.A.
March 29, 2010 13:31
The only was the Islamic extremists are convincing people to carry out suicide bombings is by duping them into thinking that it is something honorable, when it is in fact only mass murder. How can that be honorable?
In Response

by: George Washington from: New York
March 29, 2010 21:10
Another false flag operation to get Russia to join the "war on terror"itory.

My own government are the most radical terrorists in the world. KILLING MILLIONS of Muslims in the last 9 years why???

Because of 19 hijackers who had success on ONE DAY?

Hope the russians dont get duped into thinking this.

The same thing happen in India with the mumbai attacks. It was later found out the the master mind of the mubmai attacks was a FBI AGENT.

The indian government ask the u.s.a to extredite but America refused.


Wake up!
In Response

by: Koba from: Washington, DC
March 30, 2010 12:17
FBI agent, ha? You are a pathetic loser! Get back on the pill!

by: chris from: Warsaw
March 29, 2010 15:17
As cynical as it is, I am taking these bombings with grain of salt. The incident is indeed tragic however this scenario sounds awfully similar to the apartment bombings of 1999, where there are strong suggestions that the Russian FSB caused those bombings in order to gain support far a war in Chechnya and increase the governments seriously waning popularity. If one looks at what is going on in Russia today, the growing protests against Putin's government, I wouldn't be surprised that this bombing was a government ploy to rally the nation once more around the Russian flag and distract them from what is really going on in the country.


by: Danram from: Dallas, TX
March 29, 2010 15:24
While I grieve for the innocent victims of these cowardly bombings, at the same time I hope that some greater good may come of them if they cause Moscow to re-think its opposition to serious sanctions against Iran. Otherwise, one day in the not-too-distant future, a nuclear weapon manufactured in Iran and smuggled to Chechnya may wind up doing a LOT more damage in Moscow than today's bombings.
In Response

by: Koba from: Washington, DC
March 30, 2010 12:20
Could not agree more.


by: Abdulmajid
March 29, 2010 20:40
No sirrah! The Muscovites are oppressing the people in the North Caucasus in the most cruel way, and people who feel they have nothing to lose will resort to desperate measures! Or should they say to the Russian oppressors "pretty please with sugar on it" when everybody knows that the Russians have for 200 years oppresed and murdered the peoples of the Caucasus. And once again they will make a graveyard and call it peace. And I think that some people in Russia want just that, hate between the peoples.

by: Abdulmajid
March 29, 2010 20:47
How very convenient that such an attempt would happen just a few days after there were massive protests against Putinism...
Coincidence? Don't give me that!

by: anothervoice from: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
March 29, 2010 22:59
I'm am sorry for such bloodshed. When countries try to enter into very diverse regions like the Caucases, where behind every mountain there is a tribe with their own language, customs, and beliefs, there can only be a negative outcome. Fighting a man on his own soil is difficult.

by: Ethan S. Burger from: Washington, D.C.
March 30, 2010 02:54

Greetings:

Suicide murders risk strengthening the very people whose approach to resolving political conflicts are most likely to escalate the cycle of violence.

Chechens who are living in exile and have renounced terrorism should appeal to the Council of Europe and other international bodies to take political steps that will avoid more violence.

Killing innocents is never justifiable.

The Russian leadership needs to pursue policies that eliminate the conditions that facilitate the recruitment and training of terrorists.

ESB

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
March 30, 2010 05:46
There is no Caucasian terrorism, just Russian provocations!
Read WorldFreedomAndTruth.info site, Yamadaev interview,
Against Georgians in South Osetia attacks and an infiltration
And about killing children in Beslan, with some kidnaped too.

It is all "creativety" of Russian degenerates on WW2 nazi's SS,
Gestapo and Abver "oboroten's" crimes in occupied countries,
They forged since 1954-56 - with Bechtel and the Brits, OBHS,
Russia Germans and some nationals of WW2 exiled nations.

USA radio broadcast UK reporter and gasping from entusiasm
Of desinformation that Caucasians demand not Independence,
That only few Muslems, far-off craizys, dragg Russia to miazms
Of terrorism - be less oppressed by beloved Russian Masters?

What a display of the Russian an British Norman impudence!
Northern Caucasus is genetic pre-Georgia mixed with Tribes
Of Skiffs, Guns and Israel - they were free, the only limmitations
By agreements between Georgia and Russia were foreign bases.

Konstantin.

by: Ethan S. Burger from: Wasungton,, D.C.
March 30, 2010 12:16

Greetings:

Unlike the suspicious 1999 Moscow bombings that served as a pretext for the 2nd Chechen conflict, these recent acts of terrorism did not target the poorest neighborhoods in the city (see the works of David Satter and Edward Lucas -- indicating the high probability of Russian governmental involvement in the bombings).

As I understand it, the attacks took place near where Russian "security" bodies are located. Bombing empty buildings after giving a five minute warning as the IRA had done is morally defensible -- the killing of innocents is not.

Also, I may have "rushed" to judgment in that no one is taking credit for the bombings not has an investigation proven that which groups are responsible in this case. It could be that al-Qaeda is involved in some manner along with other anti-regime individuals, most likely from the Caucasus (but I would not dismiss as absurd the possibility of some other groups or individuals want the world to believe this to be the case.

So, at this time it would be a mistake to assume that Chechens were behind the murders -- but that would be a reasonable guess.

ESB
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