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Suicide Bombers Strike in Moscow

At least 20 people were killed and dozens more injured in a suicide bombing Saturday during a heavily-visited rock concert in Moscow. Authorities are saying it's the work of Chechen terrorists.


Are the blasts a resurgence of Chechen terror in the Russian capital?

Several explosions, detonated by two female suicide bombers, went off during a heavily-visited outdoor rock festival on the outskirts of Moscow on Saturday, killing at least 18 and seriously injuring many more, Russian police sources were quoted as telling the Interfax news agency.

Police and officials from the Russian interior ministry reportedly said terror attacks were the cause of the explosions. Police spokeswoman Valery Gribakin told the agency that two suspicious-looking woman had been detained at the entrance to the festival, and upon being questioned detonated bombs they were wearing.

After the first blast went off at 2:39 local time (10:52 GMT) it was followed up by a second. There are also reports that a third bomb exploded at a nearby market, security services told Russian news agencies.

Police investigating the attack told the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS that the two women had strapped 500 grams (18 ounces) of dynamite around themselves.

Geiselnahme in Moskau

A police officer stands in front the theater, which was seized by armed Chechen separatists in Moscow Oct. 23, 2002.

The organizers for the popular rock festival, which was put on by a local radio station at the city's airfield, said some 20,000 people were at the day-long event.

A terrorist attack?

The exact reason behind the suicide attack is still uncertain, and so far there has been no claim of responsibility. But the Russian state prosecutor's office has launched an immediate investigation into "terrorism" Interfax said.

Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov has pinpointed Chechen separatists, who are fighting to sever their mainly Muslim region from the rest of Russia. "Today [Saturday] President Putin signed a decree on elections in Chechnya, and one can think that these attacks are linked to this event," he told journalists gathered at the scene of the blasts.

The decree, which is part of Vladimir Putin's controversial peace plan for the war-torn state in the Caucasus mountains, calls for Kremlin-run local presidential elections in Chechnya on October. Putin launched the plan with a March referendum, in which Chechens voted to confirm Chechnya's place within the Russian Federation.

But guerrillas, who continue to operate in the mountainous region despite the presence of thousands of Russian troops, have rejected Putin's peace plan and vowed to press on with their campaign to oust the military.

Bombenanschlag bei Rockfestival in Moskau

A police officer secures the scene of the explosion at the city's airfield.

In the past Chechen separatists have employed female suicide bombers to carry out kamikaze attacks in the breakaway republic of Chechnya, where 100 people were killed in May. And many of the armed Chechens who held some 800 people hostage in a Moscow theater for three days last October were also women.

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