20 dead in Chechnya suicide bombing

Female bombers attack memorial service
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The Independent Online

Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at a religious ceremony in Chechnya today, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens of others in the second major attack in the breakaway republic in the past three days.

Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at a religious ceremony in Chechnya today, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens of others in the second major attack in the breakaway republic in the past three days.

The women detonated bombs they were wearing around their waists. Rescue officials were trying to put the bodies parts together to determine just how many people had died.

Around 10,000 Muslim pilgrims were attending a prayer service in memory of three highly respected sheikhs in the Caucasus in their native village of Ilaskhan–Yurt about 15 miles south–east of the capital Grozny.

The attackers were apparently trying to kill Akhmad Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya's Moscow–backed administration, who was at the service, according to the Interfax new agency said.

Today's attack came just two days after a truck bombing that shattered a government compound in northern Chechnya. The death toll in that attack rose to 59.

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday compared the bombing in Chechnya on Monday to the deadly blast in Saudi Arabia aimed at foreigners.

"The signature in both places is absolutely identical," he said.

Col. Ilya Shabalkin, a regional Russian commander in the Caucasus, said that the mastermind of Monday's bombing was Abu Walid, a Saudi Arabian national. He said Abu Walid had replaced Omar Ibn al Khattab, a prominent Saudi–born warlord who is alleged to have been killed by poisoning last year in Chechnya. Shabalkin presented no proof to back up his claim. Other officials said it was too early to know who was behind the attack.

The blasts raised questions about the level of security provided by federal forces in the war–shattered republic.

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