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Militant group says it downed Russian jets
Updated: 2004-08-27 15:03

A claim of responsibility for the downing of two Russian planes appeared on a Web site known for militant Muslim comment Friday.

The statement, which accused Russians of killing Muslims in Chechnya, was signed "the Islambouli Brigades." A group with a similar name has claimed at least one previous attack, but the legitimacy of the group and the authenticity of such statements could not be verified.

Russian officials have said terrorism was the most likely cause of Tuesday's plane crashes, which killed 89 people.

"We in the Islambouli Brigades announce that our holy warriors managed to hijack two Russian planes and were crowned with success though they faced problems at the beginning," the statement said without elaborating on the problems.

Friday's statement said five mujahedeen (Islamic fighters) were on board each plane and their wills will be published soon.

The statement did not explain how the hijackers boarded the planes, how they downed them or give any other details.

"Russia's slaughtering of Muslims is continuing and will only stop when a bloody war is launched," the statement said. "Our mujahedeen, with God's grace, succeeded in directing the first blow, which will be followed by a series of other operations in a wave of to extend support and victory to our Muslim brothers in Chechnya and other Muslim areas which suffer from Russian faithlessness."

A July 31 Web statement signed the "Islambouli Brigades of al-Qaida" claimed responsibility for the attempt to assassinate Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan's prime minister-designate. Friday's claim did not refer to al-Qaida, the international terror network led by Osama bin Laden.

Lt. Khaled Islambouli was the leader of the group of soldiers who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during a military parade in Cairo in 1981.

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