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Suicide bombing kills six in central Moscow
( 2003-12-10 09:04) (Agencies)

A suicide bomb attack killed at least six people and wounded 13 others in the heart of Moscow on Tuesday, just two days after Russian voters handed President Vladimir Putin an even tighter grip on power.

"We can say with certainty that this was a terrorist act ... linked to the elections to the State Duma (parliament)," said Sergei Tsoi, a spokesman for Moscow's mayor.

It was the second suicide bombing in Russia in five days and the second deadly bomb attack in the capital this year. The first one in July, which killed 15 people at an outdoor concert, was blamed on Chechen separatists.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said Tuesday's attack may have been the work of two women suicide bombers. The deputy interior minister said police were investigating whether there were three.

"There is an obvious Chechen connection," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Luzhkov as saying. He said the two women had asked directions to the State Duma lower house of parliament.

Security camera footage showed one of them wearing a belt of explosives, Luzhkov told TVTs television.

Putin called for new action to halt "terrorists" who he said were trying to undermine economic and democratic development.

"The actions of criminals, terrorists which we have to confront even today are aimed against all that," he said.

Police spokesman Kirill Mazurin said four people were killed outright. Another was reported to have died on the way to hospital. Moscow police said a sixth died later.

Itar-Tass news agency said the bomb had been packed with nails and metal pieces, making its effect more devastating when it went off just before 11 a.m.

It quoted security sources as saying one of the suicide bombers had been on a police wanted list and was suspected of having undergone training at a guerrilla training camp.


The attack cast another shadow over last Sunday's election for parliament's lower house, which handed an overwhelming victory to Putin's allies but was challenged by Western critics.

Last Friday, an apparent suicide attack on a commuter train killed at least 44 people near rebel Chechnya, scene of almost daily bloodshed between Russian forces and separatist rebels.

The fourth such election since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 crushed Putin's Communist and liberal opponents and prompted warnings of a return to authoritarian rule.

The outcome makes Putin's re-election for a second term next March a near certainty. The upper house is due to set March 14 as the date for the presidential poll at a meeting Wednesday.

Despite speculation that the new Duma make-up could allow Putin to change the constitution to let him bid for a third term in office, the president Tuesday ruled out any amendments.

The election result is worrying global investors who, though hoping Putin can push through more legal and economic reforms, fear it may mean more state interference in the private sector.

Many analysts believe the arrest on tax fraud and corruption charges of the former head of oil giant YUKOS, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in October was inspired by Kremlin hard-liners.

In the latest blow to YUKOS, tax police searched the Moscow headquarters of a bank owned by Menatep, the main shareholder in the oil firm, a spokesman for Menatep SPb bank said.

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