Sense of Deception



Chechen rebel Doku Umarov claims responsibility for Moscow blasts

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Candlelit tributes to Moscow victims

Young Russians light candles in tribute to the 39 victims of the Moscow blasts

Tony Halpin, Moscow

A Chechen militant leader claimed responsibility last night for sending “Black Widow” suicide bombers into the Moscow Metro as the head of Russia’s Security Council accused Georgia of backing terrorism in his country.

Doku Umarov said that he had personally ordered the attacks at Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations that killed 39 people on Monday. In a video posted on a Chechen separatist website, he warned that more were planned.

Mr Umarov, who calls himself the emir of a self-proclaimed Islamist emirate stretching across the North Caucasus, said: “On March 29 in Moscow two special operations were carried out to destroy the infidels and to send a greeting to the FSB [Federal Security Service]. Both of these operations were carried out on my command and will not be the last.”

The Lubyanka station is below the headquarters of the FSB, which has led the Russian campaign to crush separatist rebels in Chechnya. Mr Umarov was the prime suspect for the attack amid FSB fears that the bombers were part of a 30-strong suicide squad trained by his deputy, Said Buryatsky, who was killed by Russian forces in March.

The Kavkaz Centre website, which posted the video, said that Mr Umarov had ordered Moscow’s first terrorist attack in six years as “retaliation” for the killing of people in a security operation near the village of Arshty, on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia, in February.

The allegations against Georgia came from Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, in an interview with Kommersant newspaper: He said: “We have had information that individual members of Georgian special forces support contacts with terrorist organisations in the Russian North Caucasus.”

Temur Yakobashvili, Georgia’s State Minister for Reintegration, dismissed the allegation as a reflection of “anti-Georgian hysteria in Russia” after the war between them in 2008. Tensions rose further when Dmitri Rogozin, Russia’s envoy to Nato, lashed out at enemies in the former Soviet republic and said: “Georgian special services have really been working on this issue.”

Another double suicide bombing yesterday killed 12 people, including nine policemen, and injured 23 in Russia’s southern republic of Dagestan. President Medvedev told a Security Council meeting that the attacks were all “links of the same chain”.

“The terrorists’ goal is to destabilise the situation in the country and spark fear and panic among the population. We will not allow this,” he said. Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister, said that “one and the same gang” could be behind the killings in Moscow and Dagestan.

The attack in Kizlyar, close to Dagestan’s border with Chechnya, began when a suicide bomber detonated explosives as police tried to stop his car. A second bomber blew himself up after approaching police who had gathered at the scene of the first blast.

Shortly after the 2008 war Mr Medvedev recognised South Ossetia and Georgia’s other separatist region of Abkhazia, a move that outraged Georgia’s President Saakashvili.

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