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Human bomb carnage at Russia rock fest

Moscow, July 5 (Reuters): Two women suicide bombers killed at least 14 other people, one of them a child, when they blew themselves apart at an open-air rock festival staged at a Moscow airfield today, Russian security forces said.

Interior minister Boris Gryzlov blamed Chechens opposed to President Vladimir Putin’s plan, announced yesterday, to hold a local presidential election in Chechnya in October.

Moscow police spokesman Valery Gribakin said in the early evening 14 people had died in the two blasts and at least 60 were injured. Gryzlov had originally put the toll at 16, excluding the bombers. No one claimed responsibility. But first deputy interior minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said the investigation had established a connection with Chechen separatists.

“A special operation has established that the suicide terrorists were directly connected with illegal armed groups,” he said. The explosives, he said, were similar to those used by Chechen commandos who seized a Moscow theatre last October. Nurgaliyev said the dead included a child.

Women suicide bombers have only recently been used as a tactic by the most extreme of Chechen separatists fighting Russian rule for a decade.

The interior ministry said one of the women bombers had been identified as a resident of Chechnya, born in 1983.

The women had been prevented from entering the site proper. They blew themselves up outside admission booths at Tushino airfield, where thousands had gathered for the all-day event featuring well-known Russian bands.

After arriving at the scene interior minister Gryzlov and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov stood behind a barrier staring at the body of a young dark-haired woman on the pavement, a gaping hole in her abdomen. Yesterday, Putin issued a decree ordering a local presidential election in Chechnya on October 5. “I presume that this inhumane situation, this terrorist act, is linked with the staging of this event,” Gryzlov said.

“If the explosions had occurred on the field itself, the consequences would have been far more serious.” The concert was being wound down gradually to prevent panic.

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