Friday, May 06, 2005

Russian police foil Chechen bomb and poison-gas plot

The Scotsmen

CHRIS STEPHEN
IN MOSCOW

A CHECHEN rebel plot to attack several Russian cities with bombs and poison gas has been foiled, security forces said yesterday, four days before world leaders gather in Moscow for war victory celebrations.

The Federal Security Service said it had discovered both a lorry-bomb and a cache of poisons, allegedly intended for chemical attacks in cities across the North Caucasus and other Russian regions.

The discoveries, both made by chance, highlighted Russia’s anxiety that the high-profile celebrations marking the Soviet Second World War victory over Nazi Germany could be disrupted by Chechen attacks.

Moscow has been flooded with thousands of crack police units to deter possible attacks by Chechen fighters during the 9 May Red Square parade, which will be attended by about 50 world leaders.

The lorry was stopped during a routine search in Chechnya. Inside, police found more than a tonne of explosives packed under a blue tarpaulin and connected to a detonator.

"The lorry was fully prepared for a blast, the only thing left to do was to put a suicide-bomber behind the wheel and turn on the electric detonator," said Major General Ilya Shabalkin, the chief spokesman for the federal forces in the North Caucasus region.

Security officers are questioning the driver and say they suspect the lorry was to be crashed into a target by a suicide bomber.

A similar tactic was used last summer when the pro-Moscow Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov was killed as he watched a military parade.

The poison plot was also uncovered by chance after security forces overran a rebel base during fighting in Chechnya earlier this week.

Specially made containers containing cynanide-based substances were found hidden in the village, said the Russian security service.

"The use of these strong- acting poisons in small doses in highly populated areas, key installations and in reservoirs could have caused a large number of victims," a government statement said.

Moscow said a group based on the Chechen borders with links to international terrorists was involved in planting the cache, and planned to target southern Russian cities.

Russian officials have long claimed that Chechen forces are part of a wider terror network, receiving aid and volunteers from Middle Eastern volunteers.

There are fears that rebels are seeking revenge for the killing of Aslan Maskhadov, their former president, by Russian special forces earlier this year.

With the war in Chechnya at a stalemate, rebels have increasingly turned to terrorism to spread the war beyond the Caucases. Last summer two airliners were blown up by suicide bombers, and two more bombs were detonated in Moscow.

The killing of more than 300 children by rebels in Beslan last September closed-off any hopes of a peace settlement.



This article:

http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=484542005

Russia:

http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=98

Chechnya:

http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=610

Websites:

Itar-Tass news agency
http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/

Moscow Times
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/i

Pravda.Ru
http://english.pravda.ru/

Chechen Republic Online (unofficial)
http://www.amina.com/

Itar-Tass news agency
http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/

Russian Consulate General in Edinburgh
http://www.sol.co.uk/c/consulate/

Russian Embassy in the USA
http://www.russianembassy.org/
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