A car packed with explosives blew up in Russia’s restive North Caucasus yesterday with the country on high alert after an Islamist group claimed responsibility for Monday’s Moscow metro bombings and warned of more strikes.
Many of the 39 killed in Monday’s suicide bombings on the city metro were to be buried yesterday and the country has also been shaken by the double suicide strike in the North Caucasus on Wednesday that killed 12.
In the latest unrest, two people were killed in the Khasavurtsky district of the North Caucasus region of Dagestan during the night when their car, suspected to have been packed with explosives, blew up.
“According to preliminary information, the explosive materials that were in the car went off accidentally,” the Interfax news agency quoted a security source as saying.
The Islamist group the “Emirate of the Caucasus,” which is waging an insurgency to impose an Islamic state based on Shariah in the North Caucasus, claimed the metro attacks in a video message from its shadowy leader.
Doku Umarov, whom Russian security forces have made several attempts to kill, said he personally gave the order for the metro attacks.
“It is a legitimate act of revenge for the continued assassinations of civilians in the Caucasus,” he said in the video posted on the kavkazcenter.com Web site, which is frequently used by militants to post messages.
Russia has for years battled Islamist insurgents in the North Caucasus Muslim regions of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia, but Monday’s attacks were the first time in six years that such violence has spread to the capital.
Umarov, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Usman and had last month pledged a “holy war” of attacks throughout the country, chillingly warned Russians to expect more strikes.
“The inhabitants of Russia cannot just calmly watch on the television what is happening in the Caucasus when they do not react to the crimes committed by the gangs under [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin,” he said.
“This is why the war is coming into your streets,” warned the bearded militant, speaking in an unidentified forest location.
Umarov called the attacks revenge for a “massacre by Russian invaders of the poorest residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia” on Feb. 11 when they were “picking wild garlic ... to feed their families.”
Reports at the time quoting the Russian security services said 20 rebels had been killed in special operations on Feb. 11.
The video was the first claim of responsibility for the metro bombings but its authenticity could not be independently confirmed.
The Kommersant daily quoted investigation sources as saying that the two women who staged the Moscow metro attacks were among 30 people recruited by militant leaders to carry out suicide bombings.
It added that the two women are believed to have taken a bus from the Dagestan town of Kizlyar, the same place where the double suicide bombing killed 12 on Wednesday.
Putin said Wednesday’s suicide bombing in Dagestan may have been linked to the bombings on the Moscow metro. Funerals for many of the victims from the Moscow bombings were to be held at nine cemeteries in Moscow and in the southern city of Krasnodar.
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