Blast rips through central Moscow square

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The Independent Online

Eight people were killed when a bomb ripped through a busy underground walkway packed with hundreds of commuters and shoppers in central Moscow.

Eight people were killed when a bomb ripped through a busy underground walkway packed with hundreds of commuters and shoppers in central Moscow.

The blast ripped through the walkway at the start of the evening rush hour. The area is one of the busiest in Moscow, adjoining two major streets and three subway stations.

Police said there was no immediate indication of who was responsible for the blast. Police and security agents flooded the area after the blast, holding back frightened onlookers as smoke gushed from the passageway.

Traffic above ground was stopped and entrances to the walkway were closed.

People streamed out after the blast screaming, many covered head to foot in black soot as smoke filled the multiple passages.

The blast came the day after Russian security forces had been on alert in case of possible attacks by Chechen separatists to mark the Aug. 6, 1996 anniversary of the rebels' capture of the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Moscow and other Russian cities have been jittery since a series of apartment bombings last fall killed about 300 people. The Kremlin blamed the bombings on Chechen rebels and sent troops into Chechnya a few weeks later. The Chechens deny the charge.

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