Russia dismantles suicide attack cell: officials
Russian security forces have broken up a group preparing suicide attacks and arrested six women and two men, one of whom was linked to the Moscow metro bombings in March, officials said Monday.
Two policemen were also shot dead in the latest violence to hit Russia's troubled North Caucasus region, where the suicide-bombing cell was allegedly based, Russian news agencies reported.
The national anti-terrorist committee said security forces dismantled the group in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan after a tip-off that "terrorist attacks by female suicide bombers in central Russia" were under preparation.
"Following targeted and opportune actions by the FSB (security service) and the interior ministry, six women aged between 15 and 29 and two men were arrested," the committee said, quoted by news agencies.
One of the men was suspected of having driven to Moscow two women from Dagestan who carried out the double suicide bombing on the capital's metro system on March 29, which killed 40 people and wounded more than 100.
Four of the women were the widows of North Caucasus rebels killed in the past by security forces, while the other two were already wanted for the possession of illegal weapons.
"Farewell letters addressed to their families were seized from the arrested people," the committee said, adding that it had also found two suicide belts and pistols.
Russian television showed images of security forces arresting three young women.
One woman, wearing a grey veil and appearing visibly injured, said in the footage that three grenades and two pistols were found at her home, adding that they belonged to her late husband.
Russian authorities are struggling to quash an Islamist insurgency in the Caucausus.
The Kremlin calls the unrest in the Caucasus its biggest headache and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this month announced a major economic drive to turn the impoverished region into an investor haven in a bid to end extremism.
Separately a policeman was killed by automatic weapons fire in the Dagestan village of Gubden, while another was shot dead in the Chechen capital Grozny.
© 2010 AFP