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Russia: Putin Says Train Bombing Related To Upcoming Elections

Moscow, 5 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said he believes a bomb that exploded on a train and killed 36 people today was an attempt to destabilize Russia before Sunday's (7 December) parliamentary elections. Putin also said the attack demonstrates that the threat of terrorism in Russia is continues to be serious. "The crime committed this morning also proves that international terrorism, which is challenging many countries worldwide, continues to be a serious threat to our country too," he said. "It is a cruel, insidious, and dangerous enemy."

The director of Russia's Federal Security Service, Nikolai Patrushev, said preliminary information from the scene indicates three women and one man carried out the bombing.

The Ministry of Emergency Situations reported the explosion wounded some 170 people. It happened as the train was traveling in the southern Stavropol region near Chechnya, where Russian troops are fighting with Chechen separatists.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry of the separatist Chechen leadership said they are not responsible and condemn any act of violence targeting civilians.