Accessibility links

Heavy Casualties in Blasts at Chechnya Government Compound

At least 46 people are dead and some 70 injured after two explosions in the breakaway Russian region of Chechnya. Chechen rebels who are fighting for independence appear to be responsible for the blasts.

The explosions ripped through the Chechen administration building in downtown Grozny, the Chechen capital, as people were getting back to work after their lunch break.

The explosions appeared to be the work of Chechen suicide bombers who, witnesses say, rammed two vehicles packed with explosives into the heavily guarded compound. Rescue workers were pulling bodies and blood-soaked survivors from the rubble for several hours.

The Chechen rebels, who have been fighting Russian troops for control of the breakaway region for more than three years, often target government buildings or people loyal to the pro-Russian administration.

The head of the Chechen government information department, Alexei Vasin, said on Russia's television that it was difficult to assess the extent of the casualties. Mr. Vasin said the ruins are still being searched for survivors or bodies, and people are being taken to hospitals, some in neighboring regions.

Russian television showed pictures of the building, which was almost completely destroyed. Piles of rubble and pieces of office furniture littered the yard in front of the four-story building. A massive hole several meters deep showed where the explosion took place.

Before Friday's explosion, the Chechen administration building was one of the only renovated buildings in Grozny, a city that has been almost completely destroyed by years of war.

It was also one of the most heavily guarded buildings in Grozny and visitors had to pass through numerous document checks and guard posts to get inside.

Authorities said they would increase security in and around Grozny after the explosions.

But the head of the Chechen administration, Akhmed Kadyrov, who was in Moscow at the time of the explosion, told the Interfax news agency there is no use increasing security in Grozny. Mr. Kadyrov said it has been done before but still, in his words "terrorists still rule in Grozny."

Mr. Kadyrov said the incident also raised questions about security in the government compound and how the two explosive laden vehicles managed to get inside without being stopped.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said numerous times that the war in Chechnya is basically over, save for a few mopping up operations. But serious incidents continue like Friday's explosion and the Moscow theater siege in October.