Moscow police find two-ton cache of explosives

RUSSIAN SECURITY services, on red alert after more than 200 people died in the two latest terrorist bombings in Moscow, revealed yesterday that they had uncovered a large cache of explosives and thus prevented more possible attacks on vulnerable high-rise apartment blocks.

The Interior Minister, Vladimir Rushailo, said nearly two tons of explosives and 70 yards of fuse wire were found in the basement of a block of flats in southwest Moscow. The cache was discovered on Monday night but the public was only informed yesterday after the explosives had been safely detonated at a military training ground outside the city.

The authorities are trying to avoid panic in the wake of thebombs, the first of which killed 92 people in the working-class suburb of Pechatniki last week. Yesterday, rescuers were still combing through the rubble from Monday's blast on Kashirskoye Shosse, and by late afternoon the death toll had risen to 118.

Addressing a special session of the State Duma, the Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, laid the blame squarely on Islamic extremists who are behind a new war in the Caucasus. "It is obvious that both in Dagestan and Moscow, the fighters are not independent but rather well-trained international saboteurs," he said.

Militants from the breakaway region of Chechnya, who have led an incursion into Dagestan, have been backed by Khattab, a fighter of Saudi Arabian or Jordanian origin. The Russians also believe that Osama bin Laden, blamed by the United States for international terrorism, may be somewhere in the background.

Chechnya has denied involvement and the wilder conspiracy theorists have suggested that President Boris Yeltsin may be seeking a pretext to declare a state of emergency to extend his rule.

Rupert Cornwell,

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