Edition: 6 - NSW Country
Section: World, pg. 009
THE suicide bombing in Chechnya that left at least 16 people dead
on Wednesday narrowly missed killing the breakaway Muslim republic's
Moscow-backed administrator, Adhmad Kadyrov.
The attack brought the death toll from suicide bombings in Chechnya
this week to at least 77 and raises concerns that Russian President
Vladimir Putin may be losing control of security in the breakaway
Mr Kadyrov, Mr Putin's chief representative in Chechnya, was standing
only metres away when the bomb exploded. He was shielded by two
bodyguards, who are in a critical condition in hospital.
The suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to her waist just
after Mr Kadyrov had delivered a prayer at a Muslim religious festival
in the village of Iliskhan-Yurt, 25km from the capital Grozny.
Akhmad Abastrov, a Chechen official who was standing close to Mr Kadyrov,
said two women were killed.
``One of the women was decapitated. Eight people were seriously wounded.
Two of them lost their legs. A policeman also lost his legs.''
The bomber was identified as Shahida Baimuradova, 46, a widow whose
husband was reportedly shot dead in 1999.
The second woman was believed to have been also wearing explosives
but died without detonating her charge.
It is less than two months since Moscow won a victory in a referendum
in Chechnya that offered the republic a measure of autonomy within
the Russian federation. Despite accusations that the referendum
was rigged, Russian officials confidently argued that the rebels
had been sidelined by the vote.
A bill went to the Russian parliament yesterday that would offer an
amnesty to rebels who hand in weapons by the beginning of August,
although foreigners and those guilty of murder, kidnapping and
other serious crimes would not be eligible.
However, the rebels delivered a brutal rebuttal on Monday when a truck
laden with more than a tonne of TNT destroyed a government building
in northern Chechnya, killing 59 people.
Moscow has consistently linked the rebel actions in Chechnya to the
wider war on terrorism to garner international support.
Russian officials blamed Abu Walid for Monday's attack. The Saudi-born
warlord is thought to be a follower of the fundamentalist Wahabi
school of Islam, which is a powerful force in Saudi Arabia.
Foreign militants were also blamed for Wednesday's attack.
Magomed Goitiev, 53, who lost his wife and two daughters in Monday's
attack, said: ``Yesterday I had a family. Today I am burying them
all at once.''
Copyright 2003 / The Australian