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Explosives found at power plant in Caucasus: reports

Staff at a hydro-electric power station in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus found explosives in what appears to have been a bid to blow up the plant, Russian news agencies reported Thursday.

Staff found the makeshift explosive device following a fire at the Irganaiskaya power plant in Dagestan on Tuesday night, the RIA Novosti agency reported, quoting law enforcement officials.

It had been planted underneath the main hydroelectric unit, the agency said.

“It was equipped with an electric detonator,” the news agency quoted a law enforcement source as saying. “Apparently, they planned to remotely detonate the explosive device.”

Experts from the country’s FSB security service neutralized the device, news agencies reported.

The regional branch of the emergencies ministry had earlier reported that the fire at the plant was caused by a technical failure, indicating there were no signs of foul play.

But the Interfax news agency, citing an unidentified local law enforcement official, said that one of the plant’s employees had gone missing just before the fire broke out and authorities were now looking for him.

Contacted by AFP, officials at the regional interior ministry, regional investigators and the FSB regional branch said they could not immediately confirm the reports.

Russia is fighting a Muslim insurgency in the North Caucasus and militants have pledged to attack key infrastructure sites.

In July militants burst into a small hydroelectric plant in the Caucasus region of Kabardino-Balkaria, killing two people and setting the power plant on fire with a string of blasts.