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5 Die in Moscow Blast

At least five people are dead after an explosion in central Moscow Tuesday. President Vladimir Putin addressed a legislative council meeting shortly after the blast and said that terrorists must not be allowed to disrupt Russia's democratic and economic development.

Mr. Putin did not comment on Tuesday's attack directly, but he did say that Russia faces continued obstacles to its development by, what he called, criminals and terrorists.

President Putin says Russia has to struggle against the actions of criminals and terrorists even now, in apparent reference to Tuesday's explosion. He says their actions are against Russia's Constitution as well as its territorial integrity.

The blast occurred before noon, local time, in the heart of central Moscow, just opposite the Kremlin and Red Square.

A spokesman for Russia's Federal Security Service, the FSB, said a terrorist attack is the most likely cause.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov says two female suicide bombers may have been involved in the attack. Russian news reports quote Mayor Luzhkov and witnesses as saying two women asked directions to Russia's lower house of parliament, or Duma, moments before the blast.

The Duma is just across the street from the hotel where the explosion occurred, but police say they do not believe it was the intended target. The area was cordoned off and a robot was sent in to explore for unexploded devices.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reports that an undetonated explosive was found on the body of a woman at the site. A Moscow police spokesman said the explosives were later safely destroyed.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast - one of many this past year in the Russian capital. Authorities most often blame Chechen separatist rebels for the violence.

Russia held national parliamentary elections this past Sunday and authorities had warned that terrorists might try to disrupt the balloting, which resulted in big gains for President Putin's political allies.

Two days before the vote, a suspected suicide bomber attacked a train in Southern Russia, near Chechnya, killing 44 people. Investigators have since launched a terrorist investigation into that attack. Earlier on Tuesday, families of the victims buried their dead.