Medvedev in Caucasus as Russia Buries Bomb Victims
PRESIDENT Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday urged tough anti-terror measures as he made a surprise visit to the North Caucasus region hit by a major suicide attack and linked to the Moscow bombings.
His visit to the North Caucasus region of Dagestan came as the funerals of the 39 killed in Monday’s metro suicide bombings were being held in the capital with shattered relatives clutching photographs of their dead loved ones.
The Moscow attacks – carried out by female suicide bombers and claimed by a North Caucasus Islamist militant group – were followed Wednesday by a double suicide strike in Dagestan that killed 12.
“The list of anti-terror measures should be expanded, should be not only effective but also tough, severe if you will, with a preventative goal,” Medvedev said in televised comments from the Dagestan capital Makhachkala.
“We need to punish,” added Medvedev, who was flown to the city centre from Dagestan’s airport by helicopter for a meeting with regional and federal leaders on an unannounced visit.
“In recent times we’ve screwed off the heads of the most odious bandits but it seems that’s not enough,” he added. But he also called on Russian tycoons – many of whom are from the region – to increase investment in the Caucasus.
Underlining the instability, two people were killed in the Khasavurtsky district of Dagestan during the night when their car suspected to have been packed with explosives blew up.
“According to preliminary information, the explosive materials that were in the car went off accidentally,” the Interfax news agency quoted a security source as saying.
The Islamist group “Emirate of the Caucasus”, which is waging an insurgency to impose an Islamic state based on sharia law in the North Caucasus, claimed the Moscow attacks in a video message from its shadowy leader.
Doku Umarov, who has been the target of several attempts to kill him by the Russian security forces, said he personally gave the order for the strikes on the metro.
“It is a legitimate act of revenge for the continued assassinations of civilians in the Caucasus,” he said in the video posted on the kavkazcenter.com website which is frequently used by militants to post messages.
Russia has for years battled Islamist insurgents in the North Caucasus Muslim regions of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia but Monday’s attacks were the first time in six years that such violence has spread to the capital.
Umarov, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Usman and had last month pledged a “holy war” of attacks throughout the country, chillingly warned Russians to expect more strikes.
“The war is coming into your streets,” warned the bearded militant, speaking in an unidentified forest location.
The video was the first claim of responsibility for the metro bombings but its authenticity could not be independently confirmed.
Funerals for many of the victims from the Moscow bombings – who ranged from a girl of just 17 to a woman of 64 – were being held at nine cemeteries in Moscow as well as in the southern city of Krasnodar.
Russians were on edge after the Moscow suicide attacks with hoax bomb alerts prompting the evacuation of thousands of people from public buildings in Saint Petersburg.
A police spokesman said they had also received more alarm calls than usual from citizens, reflecting national nervousness as a result of the blasts in Moscow.
“We had three anonymous calls saying bombs had been placed at the Moscow Station, the Finland Station, two Mega shopping centres and the Kazan Cathedral,” the spokesman said.
The main evidence in the investigation to the Moscow attacks is the two bombers’ severed heads which were recovered by police after the bombings. Their photographs covered in blood have been released in the media.
Unconfirmed reports have said the bombers arrived in Moscow from the Caucasus by bus early Monday accompanied by an unidentified male who is now the subject of a police search.Filed under: Our World