Moscow Metro bombings: Insecurity in Chechnya, N. Caucasus, comes to Moscow
Officials blamed today's twin Moscow Metro bombings, which struck near the FSB security service and a major state-run media outlet, on two female suicide bombers from the N. Caucasus.
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"The terrorists are aiming at destabilization, their goal is the frighten the population," says Mr. Ilyukhin. "They also want to take revenge for the actions of the security forces against them, for the arrests and liquidations of their leaders," in the north Caucasus region, which includes the turbulent republics of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia, he says.Skip to next paragraph
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Violence in north Caucasus a decade-long threat
Violence in the north Caucasus has been spiking in recent weeks, including half a dozen bombings in Dagestan this month alone and two attacks by Ingush insurgents against local officials, most of which is scarcely reported even in the Russian media.
Some experts suggest the Moscow attacks might have been revenge for the tough security crackdown by Russian forces in the north Caucasus, which officials say have resulted in the killing of at least 35 leaders of extremist groups in Dagestan and Ingushetia so far this year.
"Things have been growing worse in the north Caucasus lately, but this is really the continuation of a threat we've been experiencing for the past 11 years," says Yulia Latynina, an investigative journalist who closely follows security issues. "Russia is the target of the international jihadist movement, but our state is less able to cope than many other countries."
'Black widows': an increasingly favorite tool of insurgents
Ms. Latynina says the female suicide bombers, who call themselves shakhidy, or martyrs, but have been dubbed "black widows" by Russian security forces, are an increasingly favorite tool of the insurgents. "By nationality, these shakhidy can be anything, even Russians," she says. "But by ideology they are Wahhabi [Muslim extremists], and they are not a new threat to be seen in Moscow."
Moscow was the scene of a wave of terrorist attacks soon after Russian troops invaded the separatist republic of Chechnya, for the second time, a decade ago. A still unsolved wave of apartment bombings in the autumn of 1999 killed almost 300 people. In subsequent years, over 1,000 Russians died in terrorist strikes, including a siege of a downtown Moscow theater in 2002 and a series of bombings in Moscow markets, Metro stations, and airliners.
But after Russian troops pacified rebel Chechnya the Kremlin declared victory, and a five year hiatus in terrorist attacks against Russia's heartland appeared to confirm the efficacy of then-President Vladimir Putin's tough measures.
But the bombing of a luxury train, crowded with officials, between Moscow and St. Petersburg last November had many experts warning that terrorists may be once again eyeing civilian targets in Russia's heartland and developing new tactics of attack.
"Bandit underground activity is still on, so they wanted to prove once more that they still exist and they are active," says Sergei Goncharov, head of a special services veteran's group. "This surely comes from the north Caucasus, which is a wound for Russia that cannot be healed."