Russian security forces say foil Victory Day attack
Russian security forces in the southern city of Astrakhan said Sunday they had foiled plans by a "religious extremist group" to carry out attacks during next week's Victory Day celebrations.
Regional police said in a statement that they had "stopped activities of members of a religious extremist group that was planning to carry out terrorist attacks during the days of celebrating victory in World War II."
Police said they attempted to detain a suspected militant in the city on the Volga delta late Saturday in a joint operation with forces from the Federal Security Service (FSB). He attempted to trigger an explosive device, and they opened fire, killing him.
Security forces simultaneously detained other suspected members of an insurgent group and confiscated "a significant amount of weapons" and explosives, as well as evidence that they were planning attacks, police said.
The Investigative Committee said in a statement that it would investigate "possible planning and preparation to commit terrorist and extremist attacks in the region."
The dead suspect, 30, was carrying a hand grenade and a homemade revolver and had a Kalashnikov automatic rifle and ammunition at his home, investigators said, while grenades and firearms were found at the homes of other suspects.
Russia and other ex-Soviet states celebrate Victory Day on May 9, a day later than VE Day is celebrated in other European countries. This year's military parade on Red Square will feature around 20,000 servicemen and more than 100 tanks and missiles.
More than 40 people died in 2002 when a landmine was detonated during a Victory Day parade in the town of Kaspiisk in the volatile North Caucasus region of Dagestan.
In a separate incident on Sunday, security forces raided a suspected rebel camp in Dagestan's Kizlyar region, killing three armed men, a police source told the ITAR-TASS news agency.
"While scouring the area, local security officers spotted three armed men, who were destroyed in a gun battle," the source said.
Police later found a rebel camp where four people were apparently operating and the fighting was continuing Sunday morning, the report said.
Russia is fighting an Islamist insurgency in the Caucasus and deadly attacks on government officials in Dagestan as well as neighbouring Chechnya and Ingushetia are frequent.
Fuelled by endemic poverty and corruption, the militants are seeking to establish an independent Islamic state across the North Caucasus.
© 2011 AFP