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Moscow Mourns Subway Bomb Victims


Residents of Moscow observed a day of mourning for the victims of last week's deadly subway bombing that killed 39 people and wounded well over 100.

Flags are flying at half-staff over government buildings in the Russian capital, as residents remember those who died in the bombing that struck at the heart of Moscow's sprawling underground rail system.

At two Moscow cemeteries, relatives of those who died in the attack buried their dead.

As in past tragedies in Russia, like the hostage-taking at the Dubrovka Theatre, Russians returned to the scene of the crime to offer prayers and to place red and white carnations near the subway tracks. The carnation is the traditional funeral flower in Russia.

All entertainment programs on Russian television have been canceled, as is also a tradition.

The commuter line quickly descended into chaos last Friday, following the explosion estimated to equal the power of five kilograms of TNT.

The cause of the blast is under investigation, but officials say they suspect a suicide bomber was responsible.

It was not the first time the Moscow metro has been the target of an attack. But Friday's bombing has renewed residents' fears about the safety of the train system, which more than one million people rely on for their daily transportation.

Commuters did their best to set aside their fears as they again made their way to work on the metro. One middle-aged man asks, "What else can I do?" He says he needs to take the metro to work five days a week. He says his children also ride the metro to school and says the police should do more to prevent attacks on the underground rail system.

Another rider said the mood inside the train carriages is tense, with riders examining each other for any sign of suspicious behavior or packages.

Russian officials increased security on the metro during the weekend, dispatching armed police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs to numerous stations. But there are more than 150 metro stations in the city, making it difficult to provide tight security at all the stations all the time.

Russia's Federal Security Bureau says it has no leads in the attack, which President Vladimir Putin blamed on Chechen separatist rebels.

A spokesman for Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov has denied involvement in the attack, but warned that the ongoing war in Chechnya would lead to, what he called, the growth of animosity, hopelessness, and terror.

The spokesman also reiterated Mr. Maskhadov's willingness to begin negotiations without conditions. But President Putin has repeatedly ruled out such talks, saying Russia does not talk to terrorists but rather "destroys them."

Russian federal forces and Chechen separatist rebels have been locked in a bitter guerrilla-style war for most of the past decade.

Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, who is allied with Moscow, expressed confidence that the police will find those responsible for the bombing. Mr. Kadyrov also warned Russian politicians against blaming the entire Chechen nation for the attack. He said such statements are dangerous and wrong, and do little more than fuel ethnic tensions between Chechens and Russians.

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