Russia 'seeks Slavic militant' over Moscow bombing

27th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

An ethnic Russian member of a North Caucasus militant group Thursday emerged as the first suspect in the suicide strike on Russia's main airport as a new bombing rocked the overwhelmingly Muslim region.

Investigators have yet to publish any firm conclusions three days after the attack that killed 35 but unofficial reports have made a link with a North Caucasus militant group and a mysterious explosion in Moscow on December 31.

The Kommersant daily said the investigation was focusing on a man named Razdobudko from the Stavropol region just north of the Caucasus mountains who is suspected of belonging to local Islamist militant group Nogaisky Dzhamaat.

Suggesting that he could have been the suicide bomber, the newspaper said the authorities now believed that the attacker was most likely to have been a male ethnic Russian rather than from one of the Caucasus ethnic groups.

"He is not the only person suspected of involvement in the attacks," it quoted a security source as saying. "So it's not worth hurrying with conclusions."

Meanwhile four people were killed and six wounded in a massive car bombing outside a cafe in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan, the deadliest attack to hit the region since the attack at Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Monday.

The blast took place at just after 10:00 pm (1900 GMT) Wednesday outside the Karavan cafe on the outskirts of the town of Khasavyurt in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan.

A criminal investigation has been opened into an "act of terror and illegal use of explosives," the Interfax news agency said, quoting the local branch of the investigative committee.

Investigators believe that some 30 kilogrammes (66 pounds) of TNT equivalent explosives were used in the blast, RIA Novosti and Interfax said.

Attacks by Islamist militants have claimed hundreds of lives in the Northern Caucasus over the last years as rebels wage an insurgency against the authorities with the aim of imposing an Islamic state in the region.

The Kremlin fought two wars against separatist rebels in Chechnya in the 1990s but the insurgency has now become more Islamist in tone and has spread to neighbouring Ingushetia and Dagestan.

President Dmitry Medvedev went ahead with a speech at the Davos global business forum Wednesday night despite the Moscow bombing, saying that the attackers had tried to prevent him addressing the meeting.

"They expected their act would bring Russia to its knees," he said.

The president has lashed out at lax security at Domodedovo airport for allowing the bombing to take place and the day earlier fired the top police transport official for Russia's central region.

Kommersant also reaffirmed previous reports the airport attack could be linked to a blast in Moscow late on December 31 where a suspected female suicide bomber is believed to have accidentally blown herself up.

Some reports have suggested that the woman was preparing a large scale attack in central Moscow on New Year's Eve and her charge was detonated when her mobile received a spam SMS congratulating her on the start of 2011.

Kommersant said that the woman and another girl who accompanied her may have been forced to go to Moscow after members of the Nogaisky Dzhamaat made threats against their children.

The threats may have come from Razdobudko himself, it said.

Militants from the Northern Caucasus have been blamed for a string of attacks in Russia over the last years, including the 2010 double suicide bombings on the Moscow metro that killed 40.

Russian media have published grisly pictures of the severed head of the suspected suicide bomber at Domodedovo but investigators have yet to reveal the identity of the attacker.

© 2011 AFP

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