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Russians look for 'female bomber'
( 2003-12-10 09:55) (Agencies)

Russia is jittery after a series of attacks.   [AFP]
Russian police are searching for a woman in connection with a suicide attack in central Moscow that killed six people, including the bomber.

The bomb went off outside the landmark National Hotel, just across the street from the Red Square on Tuesday morning, also injuring 13 people.

The Moscow attack comes four days after a suicide bomber killed 44 people on a commuter train in southern Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was quick to condemn Tuesday's bombing, calling it a bid to undermine democracy and the economy in Russia, while Moscow's mayor said Chechen separatists may be behind the attack.

Russia held parliamentary elections on Sunday, and officials have linked the latest bombing to the vote, saying the attackers wanted to send a message by exploding a bomb at the center of the Russian government.

Police say two female suspects may have been targeting the nearby Parliament building when one of the bombs went off accidentally.

They say the second suspect could still be carrying explosives.

The blast blew out windows of the hotel and a Mercedes car. Explosives experts later detonated at least two other suspicious objects.

No group has claimed responsibility, but past attacks -- including ones carried out by female suicide bombers -- have been blamed on rebels from the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

The blast happened outside the National Hotel.  [AP]
'Not safe'

A Norwegian journalist, Amund Miklebust, said he had just entered the National Hotel when he heard the blast.

"We saw bodies lying around," he told The Associated Press. "Everybody was shocked."

Asked if he, too, was in shock, Miklebust replied: "Well, when you're in Moscow you always have this thing at the back of your head that you're not 100 percent safe here."

Russians have been jittery about terrorist acts following a year-long series of explosions in Moscow and southern Russia blamed on Chechen rebels.

Altogether, almost 300 people have been killed in Russia in the past year.

The blast happened outside the National Hotel.

The deadly bombings -- and a Chechen rebel hostage-taking raid on a Moscow theater in October 2002 -- have exposed the inability of Russian authorities to prevent suicide attacks.

A double suicide bombing at a Moscow rock concert in July killed the female attackers and 15 other people, and an explosive device a woman brought into central Moscow less than a week later killed an expert who tried to defuse it.

Russian forces have been bogged down in Chechnya since 1999, when they returned following rebel raids on a neighboring Russian region.

Earlier, they fought an unsuccessful 1994-96 war against separatists that ended in de facto independence for the region.

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