Terrorism: September 16, 2003


Islamic rebels fighting the Russians continue to rely on bombings as a primary method of carrying on their war. Right before noon on September 15th, a truck loaded with explosives blew up outside of the federal security services (FSB) building in Magas, Ingushetia's capital. Another report said that a bomb had been placed on the roof of the four-story building in Magas.

Initial reports were that four were killed and at least 17 to 22 wounded from concussion and flying glass. The explosion shattered all the glass in the building, leaving the three-story structure severely damaged but still standing. There were as many as 100 people were in the building at the time of the blast. 

The FSB had been leading the federal campaign against Chechen rebels. It recently handed control to the interior ministry. Recently, Russia has been hit by numerous bombings and other attacks, which the government usually blames on rebels from Chechnya. 

Suicide bombings and other attacks, in and around Chechnya as well as Moscow, have killed more than 150 people in the past five months. 

The easiest attacks for the Islamic terrorists to mount are with explosive packed vests or belts (like those favored by the Palestinian terrorists in Israel). On September 7, a potential terrorist act was thwarted during Moscow's "City Day" celebrations when a female Chechen "shahid" was disarmed before she could detonate a "shahid belt" (similar to those used by the Tushino terrorists). On July 5, two female suicide bombers wearing similar explosive belts detonated them in a crowd. 

Another simple method is to set off several small bombs simultaneously. Three bombs went off in Krasnodar early on the morning of August 25 within a 10-minute period at three different bus stops, killing 3 people immediately and wounding several others. Investigators have estimated that each explosive device had around seven ounces of TNT equivalent, had been stuffed with bolts and screws, then fitted with timing mechanisms. At least four terrorists are suspected of setting these devices. 

The most dangerous attacks remain car or truck bombs. On August 1, a truck packed with explosives rammed through the gates of a military hospital in Mozdok, in southern Russia, killing 50 people. 

Both Russia and Chechnya remain on high alert, amid fears that rebels would try to stage an attack ahead of the October 5 elections for a Chechen president. This election has been described by Russian president Vladimir Putin as a key step on the road to peace. - Adam Geibel


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