News / Europe

Russian Official Blames Regional Islamic Rebels for Moscow Airport Bombing

Security at Moscow airport after bombing (file photo)
Security at Moscow airport after bombing (file photo)
James Brooke

A southern Russian leader is blaming Islamist rebels for the Moscow airport bombing.  

Ingushetia President Yunus-bek Yevkurov blames the Caucasus Emirate rebel group for Monday’s massive bombing of Moscow’s busiest airport.  Talking to foreign reporters, he said these leaders, the Northern Caucasus underground, are responsible, like Doku Umarov.   Umarov, a Chechen, calls himself emir of the Caucasus Emirate.  The emirate is a loose confederation of Islamic radicals with cells along Russia’s southern fringe - Tajikistan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.

When VOA asked why he thought the group carried out the bombing, Mr. Yevkurov, a former Russian military intelligence officer, said, "I don’t think so, I am convinced they did it”"  Eighteen months ago, a local unit of the Caucasus Emirates tried to assassinate Mr. Yevkurov by sending a suicide bomber to ram his official car.  Two passengers were killed, but Ingushetia’s president survived.

Mr. Yevkurov is the highest ranking official in Russia to blame the group that many  Russians assumed was behind the massive airport bombing that left 35 people dead and 168 others wounded.   Investigators say there are links to a similar bomb that exploded on New Year’s Eve at a house in a Moscow suburb.  That bomb killed a woman from the Caucasus.  Police say she intended to detonate the device as she walked through crowds of New Year's celebrants in Red Square.  The bomb was set to be triggered by a mobile telephone call and apparently went off prematurely, triggered by an automated text message that the phone company sent to subscribers, wishing them a Happy New Year.

Investigators have identified all but two bodies in this week's bombing.  The remains are so mutilated that detectives say they are from the couple that carried the bomb into the international arrival section of the airport.  Police have made public a photograph of the head of a man who seems to have been in his thirties whose features appear to be African, not Russian.

More details are coming out about the victims of the bombing.  Ukraine is mourning Anna Mashutina a rising young playwright who wrote under the name AnnaYablonskaya.  The author of more than a dozen plays during the last five years, she had won the attention of the Russian speaking theater world.  Invited to Moscow to receive an award, Mashutina had just flown in from Odessa, when she was killed by the bomb.

The bomb killed three foreigners visiting Moscow on business trips.  Heidemarie Wallner, an old employee of Deutsche Bank in Vienna, Hendrik Minderop of Germany and Gordon Cousland, a British property consultant.  The bomb also killed three members of a Moscow region farm family that had gathered to meet friends returning from Canada.

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