Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Bomb kills 36 passengers on train near Chechnya

AP , ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA

A powerful bomb tore through a commuter train near Chechnya during morning rush hour yesterday, killing 36 people and wounding scores of others in what authorities described as an act of terrorism.

The head of the Federal Security Service blamed the attack on four attackers, including three women, the Interfax news agency reported. The body of a male suicide bomber was found, with grenades still strapped to his legs, FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev told President Vladimir Putin, according to Interfax.

Putin called the attack "an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country on the eve of parliamentary elections," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. Russians vote in a new parliament on Sunday.

The force of the blast -- the second fatal attack on the line since September -- hurled some passengers from the car and trapped others under a mound of twisted, ragged metal. Bomb explosives experts carefully entered the wreckage to blow up undetonated explosives, setting off three booms, Russian TV reported.

Hospitals in the region admitted 148 wounded, said Major General Nikolai Lityuk of the Emergency Situations Ministry. Twenty-nine passengers were lightly injured.

Authorities are treating the attack as an act of terror, but did not single out the culprits, said Vladimir Rudyak, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office in the region. He said the force of the blast was equal to 10kg of TNT.

"We will find those who did it," Boris Gryzlov, the interior minister and head of the biggest pro-Kremlin party competing in Sunday's parliamentary elections, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. "The earth will be burning under their feet."

The rebel Chechen government led by president Aslan Maskhadov denied it was responsible for the explosion in a statement distributed to news media.

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