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Chechnya: At Least 46 Dead In Blast

Grozny, 27 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- At least 46 people were killed in two explosions today at the pro-Russian government headquarters in Grozny, the Chechen capital. Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Tsakaev is quoted by Russian news agencies as saying a truck and an off-road vehicle packed with explosives rammed through barriers around the building. Tsakaev said the number of casualties is "significant."

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts. The head of the Chechen administration, Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, told ITAR-TASS he believes separatist Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov ordered and organized the attack. Kadyrov was in Moscow today.

Russia's NTV television showed stunned and bleeding people stumbling out of the rubble.

Kadyrov's deputy, Mikhail Babich, also was not in the building at the time of the blasts. However, the offices were said to be full of employees and visitors.

Interfax quotes Kadyrov as saying the interior of the building had been "practically destroyed" in the explosion. The nearby Chechen Finance Ministry was also damaged.