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Explosion hits dagenstan town { May 9 2002 }

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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
Explosion hits Dagestan town

At least 20 people have been killed by an explosion in the town of Kaspiysk in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan.
The blast ripped through the main square of the town in the region bordering Chechnya at about 0945 local time (0545 GMT).

Local police said at least 100 people were injured in the explosion, which happened during a parade marking Russia's Victory Day.

Reports said a mine hidden in shrubbery had blown up a bus as it transported a military band during the procession to commemorate the 57th anniversary of Russian victory in World War II.

The head of the Dagestan state council, Magomed Magomedov, said the remote-controlled mine had been planted at the side of the main street in the town on the Caspian Sea.

The victims were reported to include soldiers, children, military veterans and musicians.

Russian television showed footage of blood and scattered brass band instruments on the pavement.

'Days numbered'

"I think that few people can have any doubt about this being an act of terrorism," Russian President Vladimir Putin said, equating those behind the suspected attack to Nazis.

It is essential that the criminals are tracked down and exposed immediately," said Mr Putin, who was addressing a rally in Moscow's Red Square at the time of the blast.

He instructed the director of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), Nikolai Patrushev, to fly to Dagestan within hours to coordinate an investigation into the incident.

Mr Magomedov said Dagestan was shocked by the explosion which had been "organised by the foes of Dagestan and all of Russia".

"Their days are numbered, they will be found and destroyed," he said.

The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov in Moscow says Russians are shocked at the incident on one of Russia's most solemn and sacred occasions.

He says mines on roadsides have been widely used to target Russian troops in Chechnya, but to use them against a parade which included civilians, outside the war-torn province, is a departure from previous tactics.

Drawn-out war

Dagestan sees frequent small-scale bombings and other unrest, often related to the 31-month war between separatist rebels and Russian forces in the neighbouring breakaway region of Chechnya.

Chechen rebel groups have been linked to terror attacks in neighbouring republics.

Kaspiysk has a large population of Russian border guards and their families.

The town suffered a large bomb attack in November 1996, when 68 people were killed in an explosion which tore through an apartment building housing Russian border guards.

The cause of the blast was never determined, but many blamed it on Chechen rebels.

29 die in russia blast { May 9 2002 }
Explosion hits dagenstan town { May 9 2002 }

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