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Russia: Bomb Explodes Near Kremlin, Killing Several People

Moscow, 9 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- An explosion in central Moscow today killed at least five people and injured at least 13, Russian and international media reported. The incident occurred outside Moscow's National Hotel, near Red Square and the building of the Russian State Duma.

An unidentified spokesman for the Federal Security Service (FSB), which is investigating the incident, said that the explosion was likely "a terrorist act," and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told Interfax that it was caused by one or two female suicide bombers.

That report has not been confirmed, nor has another Interfax report citing an unidentified FSB source as saying that shortly before the blast a "suspicious woman" entered the National Hotel and asked for directions to the Duma building.

Other media outlets noted that similar explosions in the past were subsequently revealed to have been carried out by criminal groups.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for new action to stop what he called terrorists trying to disrupt Russia's democracy and development.

It came just two days after pro-Kremlin centrist and nationalist parties swept national parliamentary elections, and four days after a terrorist bomb ripped through a commuter train in southern Russia, killing 44 and injuring more than 150.