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Russia's Medvedev Calls For Tough Measures After Bombings

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meets with leaders of the North Caucasus republics in Makhachkala.
(RFE/RL) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called for tougher and more severe measures to combat terrorism, after a series of suicide bombings killed more than 50 people this week.

Medvedev made the remarks after arriving in Daghestan on a surprise visit, the day after suicide bombers killed 12 people in the troubled North Caucasus republic.

His visit also follows a claim of responsibility by Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov for twin attacks on the Moscow metro that killed 39 people on March 29.

Medvedev said Russia must deal "sharp dagger blows to the terrorists, destroy them and their lairs."

The Russian president added that the list of counterterrorism measures "not only in our country, but in general -- should be expanded. They should be not only more effective but also tougher and more severe, if you will, in order to prevent terrorist attacks. We need to punish."

Television footage showed Medvedev speaking at a meeting of security officials and North Caucasus regional leaders in Daghestan's capital, Makhachkala.

He said authorities had notched up some recent successes in their fight against terrorism -- an apparent reference to the killings in recent weeks of top North Caucasus militants such as Said Buryatsky.

But Medvedev said that had not been enough -- and in the colorful language more associated with his predecessor, current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, he vowed all militant leaders would be found and punished.

"We have made some progress fighting terrorism in recent time. We have been able to rip the heads off the most notorious bandits," Medvedev said. "But obviously this is not enough. In any event, we're going to find and punish all of them, in due time."

Violence In The Caucasus

On March 31 Russia's most wanted man, Umarov, claimed responsibility for the Moscow metro attacks.

In a video message posted on an Islamist website, Umarov said the attacks were a response to the February killings of Chechen civilians by Russian security forces.

In the message, which he said was recorded on the day of the metro attacks, Umarov warned of more strikes to come.

The attacks in Moscow and Daghestan have stoked fears of a possible new campaign of insurgent violence throughout the country.

The bombings also follow a surge in violence in the Caucasus.

In the latest incident earlier today, an explosion killed two suspected militants and wounded a third in Daghestan. Police said the men might have been transporting a makeshift bomb.

Medvedev's newly appointed envoy to the North Caucasus, Aleksandr Khloponin, said stability would be elusive until officials earned the support of local residents.

"We will never cope with this task," he said, "if we do not have the full support of our residents."

with agency reports