Joined: 14 Jul 2003
|No 'Arabs' among militants ID'd by Russia
Fri Sep 10, 2004 8:29 pm
MOSCOW - Russian security officials identified 10 of the Beslan school hostage-takers Thursday, confirming that six of them came from the breakaway republic of Chechnya.
Four others were from Ingushetia, the republic bordering North Ossetia, where last week's siege that ended in the deaths of at least 326 children and adults took place.
So far, regional security sources have not provided any information to back up Russian President Vladimir Putin's earlier allegation that about 10 of the approximately 30 hostage-takers were "Arabs" from the Middle East and might have been linked to al-Qaeda.
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Putin's allegation, as well as Russia's belief that some foreign countries are sheltering Chechen rebels, led a top Russian soldier to threaten to attack terrorist strongholds outside its borders.
"We will take all measures to liquidate terrorist bases in any region of the world," Col.-Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the Russian General Staff, told reporters on Wednesday.
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West accused of undermining Russian security
In a separate development Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov complained that Western nations are undermining Russia's security by sheltering leaders of the Chechen independence movement.
"Granting asylum to people involved in terrorism – and Russia has documented evidence of this – not only causes us regret but also effectively undermines the unity of the anti-terrorist coalition," Lavrov told a Russian newspaper.
Britain has granted asylum to Akhmed Zakayev, an envoy of Aslan Maskhadov, the leader of the five-year-old Chechen rebellion. The United States offered similar accommodation to Ilyas Akhmadov, Maskhadov's former foreign minister in a short-lived autonomous government that ruled Chechnya from 1997-2000.
Russia has offered a $13-million bounty for information that helps "neutralize" Maskhadov and another rebel leader, Shamil Basayey.
The two men are wanted for planning the Beslan school tragedy as well as three suicide bombings that killed dozens of Russians in the previous two weeks.
Giuliani draws parallels
Also on Thursday, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani expressed sympathy for the people of Russia as he visited Moscow.
Giuliani was mayor when two airplanes hijacked by al-Qaeda agents crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York three years ago this Saturday.
"This will bring our people together, because we have been through something very similar," Giuliani told Russian reporters. "We've unfortunately both now been victims of terrorism on several occasions."
Written by CBC News Online staff