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Truck Blast Kills Dozens in Chechnya - 2003-05-12

At least 40 people are dead and more than one hundred were wounded in a suicide truck bombing in Russia’s breakaway republic of Chechnya. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Monday’s blast is the latest violence in a region torn by war for the past decade. Robert Raffaele has the details.

The explosion happened outside a government complex about 15 kilometers north of the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Chechen officials say a truck loaded with explosives blew up at a check point about 30 meters outside a concrete wall, surrounding a complex of administrative buildings.

Several homes and apartment buildings were destroyed in the blast, along with an office of the Russian Federal Security Service.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Cabinet ministers the bombing would not derail efforts for a political settlement between the Kremlin and Chechen leaders.

“I would like to urge the administration of the president, the government, in cooperation with the leadership of the Chechen republic to continue implementing the plan of normalization in Chechnya and to speed up the development of the draft agreement on the division of powers between the federal center and the Chechen republic.”

Mister Putin is seeking a power-sharing deal between Moscow and Grozny, based on a new constitution approved by Chechen voters last March.

In December, another truck bombing at the headquarters of the pro-Moscow government in Grozny killed about 80 people.

Chechnya attempted to become independent from Russia in the early 1990s. Rebel forces engaged in three years of fighting with Russian troops, before Russian forces withdrew in 1996. But troops returned three years later, launching a second war that killed thousands.