Chechen terrorists blamed after Moscow attack kills 10

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The Independent Online

Ten people were killed in Moscow last night when a bomb exploded outside a busy metro station in the north of the capital ­ a week after two passenger airliners were blown out of the sky in an act of terrorism.

Ten people were killed in Moscow last night when a bomb exploded outside a busy metro station in the north of the capital ­ a week after two passenger airliners were blown out of the sky in an act of terrorism.

Initial reports had said about 50 people were injured in the blast, which occurred about 8pm. Twelve were reported to be in a serious condition. Small children were among the wounded. Police said the bomb appeared to have spewed out a deadly arc of bolts and other metal items.

An Islamist group claimed responsibility for the bombing at the crowded Riga metro station and vowed there would be more attacks on "infidel" Russia, according to a statement published on a website.

Investigators said they were looking into two possible scenarios for the attack. The first was that a bomb was left in a car parked by the metro station and a supermarket called Krestovsky. Witnesses reported seeing a woman park the car in front of the station five to seven minutes before the explosion. The second theory was that a Chechen "black widow" suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt.

Official pronouncements were clear that the explosion was an act of terrorism, and suspicion immediately fell on Chechen separatist rebels, who are also suspected of blowing up the two planes last week.

Last night the area was swarming with ambulances, police officers and agents from the FSB security service. Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, rushed to the scene.

Rijskaya metro station was temporarily shut and traffic on nearby Prospekt Mira, a major Moscow artery, was paralysed as sirens wailed out.

Alexander Cherkasov, a guest on the radio station Ekho Mosvky at the time of the explosion, said: "We are living in a country at war. We have tried to forget about it and pretend that the situation is normal."

Another guest laid the blame on Russian policy on the breakaway republic of Chechnya, which has been bogged down in a bitter war of independence on and off for the past decade. "Everything that is going on in Russia today is a result of the government's policy on the North Caucasus," he said. "It is the only reason for the wave of terror that is convulsing our country."

President Vladimir Putin had earlier yesterday said that last week's atrocity proved Chechen rebels had links to international terrorism. "It's a fact that explosions took place on board two Russian civilian planes," he said at a news conference after talks with the leaders of Germany and France. "If a terrorist organisation claimed responsibility for this, and it is linked to al-Qa'ida, then this confirms a link between certain forces operating on the territory of Chechnya and international terrorism."

Earlier this week daily Izvestia reported that the two prime suspects in the plane bombings had travelled to Moscow with two other suspected "black widows" who, it suggested, were still on the loose in the capital and could carry out further attacks. The blast follows a series of suicide attacks in Russia over the past year, all of them linked by officials to Chechen rebels seeking independence from Moscow.

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