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Website Says Chechen Rebels Declare 'Economic War'

More than 20 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a police station in Ingushetia on August 17.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A Russian rebel website has posted a statement signed by Chechen fighters declaring "economic war" on Russia and claiming responsibility for a recent dam disaster and a bomb in Ingushetia.

A Kremlin source contacted by Reuters dismissed the statement, saying he would not comment on what he described as an "idiotic" claim. Russian markets also shrugged off the news.

The letter, signed by the "Battalion of Martyrs," was posted on the website, which claims to represent Chechen rebels.

The letter said the main Chechen rebel leader in hiding, Doku Umarov, who seeks an Islamic state in the North Caucasus, had decided to step up a campaign of economic war on Russia.

It said groups of fighters had been sent across Russia for attacks that would focus on gas and oil pipelines, power plants, and electricity lines.

Early on August 17, within hours of each other, a giant Siberian dam was seriously damaged by an uncontrolled torrent of water pouring through the machine room and more than 20 people were killed when a suicide truck bomb rammed a police station in the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia.

Investigators probing the dam incident ruled out foul play early in their work and until now, nobody has suggested that a bomb could have caused the damage. Fourteen bodies have been retrieved from the dam disaster and 60 people are still missing.