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Russia: Yeltsin Expresses Outrage At 'Barbaric Act Of Terror'

Moscow, 16 September 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin says he is "deeply shaken and outraged" by the latest bombing in Russia which killed at least 17 people early today in a large apartment block in the southern city of Volgodonsk. In a telegram to the governor of the Rostov region, Yeltsin described the bomb as a "barbaric act of terror." He said that, once again, innocent people have fallen victims to criminals. But he said -- in his words -- "the terrorists will not achieve their aims, they will not beat us." No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. Russian officials say a truck packed with explosives was detonated at 6 a.m. local time outside the nine-storey apartment building, destroying one of its outside walls and leaving a four-meter deep crater. Rescue workers have recovered 17 bodies, including those of two children. Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu says 115 people were injured, of whom 48 are in serious condition. It was the fourth bombing of an apartment block in Russia in the past two weeks. Two explosions in Moscow and one in the Caucasus region of Dagestan have killed some 285 people. Russian officials have blamed the explosions on terrorists allied with Chechen-led Islamic rebels fighting Russian government forces in Dagestan, bordering Chechnya. Chechen officials and rebels have denied responsibility. Security has been massively stepped up in cities and towns across Russia. Intelligence services spokesman Aleksandr Zdanovich said today that anti-terrorist bomb disposal units in Moscow have defused six primed explosive devices since Monday. The devices were timed to go off on different days through to next Tuesday.