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Rescue Workers End Search for Survivors of Chechnya Blast - 2002-12-28

The search for survivors at a building destroyed by a bomb attack in the breakaway Russian region of Chechnya is over. The deadly attack killed at least 55 people and injured more than 100 others.

While the search for survivors is over, the search for answers to how the tragedy occurred is just beginning.

Russian officials say they are investigating how the suicide bombers were able to drive two vehicles loaded with explosives into the Chechen capital of Grozny and explode them in front of the Chechen administration.

The explosions happened Friday afternoon and virtually destroyed the four story building where an estimated 200 people were believed to be working.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it appears to be the work of Chechen rebels who have been fighting Russian troops for control of the region for the past three years.

Chechen rebels view people who work for the pro-Moscow Chechen administration as traitors and often target them. In October, Chechen rebels blew up a police building in Grozny, killing 25 people.

Russian officials have blamed the attack on Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov, charges Mr. Maskhadov has denied.

Russian officials say they are investigating how the two vehicles were able to pass through a number of Russian military checkpoints in Grozny before ramming through a wall surrounding the main building of the Chechen administration.

Russian media reported that the vehicles had Russian army registration plates and those inside were dressed as Russian soldiers, something that would help them get past the checkpoints.

In comments reported by Russia's Interfax news service, Russian President Vladimir Putin's special representative for the southern region, said the attack demonstrated "carelessness" and "irresponsibility."

The Chechen administration building was one of the few buildings in Grozny renovated after years of war which has reduced most of the city to rubble. It was also one of the most heavily guarded buildings.

The deadly attack directly contradicts statements by Russian officials that the Chechen rebels are mostly defeated and no longer capable of launching large-scale attacks.