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New blast as Russia buries dead, Islamists claim bombings

A new explosion shook Russia as the country held funerals for dozens killed in the Moscow metro suicide bombings claimed by an Islamist group that warned of further strikes.

world Updated: Apr 01, 2010 12:15 IST

A new explosion shook Russia on Thursday as the country held funerals for dozens killed in the Moscow metro suicide bombings claimed by an Islamist group that warned of further strikes.

Funerals were to be held at nine cemeteries in Moscow and also in the southern city of Krasnodar as Russia mourned the 39 victims killed when two female suicide bombers blew themselves up on the Moscow metro on Monday, state television said.

Some 16 bodies have also been dispatched to their homes as far afield as the Far East region of Yauktia and the Central Asian state of Tajikistan for burial, the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted municipal officials as saying.

The Islamist group the "Emirate of the Caucasus", which is waging an insurgency to impose an Islamic state based on sharia law in the North Caucasus, claimed the metro attacks in a video message from its shadowy leader.

Doku Umarov, who has been the target of several attempts to kill him by the Russian security forces, said he had personally given the order for the metro attacks.

"It is a legitimate act of revenge for the continued assassinations of civilians in the Caucasus," he said in the video posted on the website which is frequently used by militants to post messages.

Russia has for years battled Islamist insurgents in the North Caucasus Muslim regions of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia but Monday's attacks were the first time in six years such violence has spread to the capital.

With lull in attacks in the capital utterly shattered, the authorities were further jolted Wednesday when 12 people, mainly police, were killed in a double suicide bombing in Russia's southern region of Dagestan.

Underlining the instability in Dagestan, two people were killed in its Khasavurtsky district overnight Wedneday to Thursday when their car suspected to have been packed with explosives blew up.

"According to preliminary information, the explosive materials that were in the car went off accidentally," Interfax quoted a security source as saying Thursday.

Umarov, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Usman and had last month pledged a "holy war" of attacks would throughout the country, chillingly warned Russians to expect more strikes in their heartland.

"The attacks on Russian territory will continue in revenge for what the Russian special services are doing in the Caucasus," warned the bearded militant, speaking in an unidentified forest location.

"The inhabitants of Russia cannot just calmly watch on the television what is happening in the Caucasus when they do not react to the crimes committed by the gangs under (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin."

"This is why the war is coming into your streets."

Umarov called the attacks revenge for a "massacre by Russian invaders of the poorest residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia" on February 11 when they were "picking wild garlic ... to feed their families."

Reports at the time quoting the Russian security services said 20 rebels had been killed in special operations on February

The video was the first claim of responsibility for the metro bombings but its authenticity could not be independently confirmed.

The Kommersant daily quoted an investigation source as saying this week that militants had recruited 30 potential suicide bombers in recent months, with 21 still at large after nine already blew themselves up.

Putin said Wednesday's suicide bombing in Dagestan, may have been linked to the bombings on the Moscow metro.

The main evidence in the investigation is the two bombers' severed heads, which were recovered by police after the bombings. Their photographs covered in blood have been released in the media.

Unconfirmed reports have said the bombers arrived in Moscow from the Caucasus by bus early Monday accompanied by an unidentified male who is now the subject of police search.

First Published: Apr 01, 2010 10:57 IST