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Mine Leaves 21 OMON Troops Dead

Published: April 19, 2002 (Issue # 763)


MOSCOW - In the biggest attack yet on Chechnya's police force, at least 21 elite OMON troops were killed Thursday after a land mine ripped through a convoy in Grozny.

The blast came just two hours after President Vladimir Putin said in his state of the nation address that the military stage of the Chechen conflict was over.

A van carrying the OMON servicemen, all Chechens, blew up after it ran over a land mine planted near the main poice headquarters in the north of Grozny, a spokesperson for the Chechen government, Andrei Pilipchuk, said by telephone from the Chechen capital. When another police vehicle arrived to help several minutes later, it also hit a land mine, he said.

Russian television showed the mangled remains of a bus and a truck and charred police identity papers collected at the site of the attack.

Alexander Machevsky, an aide to the Kremlin's chief spokesperson on Chechnya Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said that, according to the Chechen Interior Ministry, 17 service personnel were killed in the explosions and one severely wounded. Another six people were also wounded by the blasts, Interfax quoted Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Beslan Gantamirov as saying. Four service personnel later died in the hospital, The Associated Press reported.

Gantamirov said troops had wounded one of the perpetrators of the attack in an exchange of gunfire that followed the blasts and then captured him. Four more suspects in the attack were later detained in a search operation in Grozny, he told Interfax. An AP reporter in Grozny said the gunfire lasted for about 15 minutes, and RTR television said it came from a nearby high-rise building.

Gantamirov speculated that Chechen rebels timed the attack to coincide with Putin's speech. Putin reiterated Thursday his often-repeated claim that "the military stage of the conflict can be considered over." He said it was time to move on to reconstructing the region's infrastructure and judicial system.

Machevsky said the head of the Chechen OMON troops, Musa Gazimagomadov, had declared a personal vendetta against those behind the attacks. "I have no doubts that he will find them," he said.

Sultan Satuyev, first deputy head of the Chechen police, told NTV television that the police will stand firm against the rebels. "It seems they want to intimidate us," he said. "They will not succeed."

Akhmad Kadyrov, the Kremlin-appointed head of the Chechen government, accused Chechen law enforcement of negligence in providing safety in the city. "I believe that the investigation into the terrorist attacks must necessarily include an inquiry into the actions of officials responsible for providing security in the city," he was quoted by Interfax as saying.





 


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Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldn’t miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norway’s largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.