Forest massacre may be linked to Moscow bombings

Last Updated: Saturday, April 3, 2010 - 21:30

Moscow: The two mysterious young widows who
brought terror to Moscow by targeting its famed subway system
might have been motivated by a forest massacre in which
garlic-picking villagers were slain by government forces.

Both suicide bombers - one 17, another reportedly 20 -
were from Russia`s predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region,
home to a fierce Islamic insurgency that has been fuelled by
frequent killings, kidnappings and torture of residents by
government forces.

Monday`s subway bombings, which killed 40 people and
injuring 90, were the first terror attacks in the Russian
capital since 2004. Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed
responsibility, saying the attacks were retaliation for the
February 11 killing of innocent civilians by government forces
in the North Caucasus.

Then, four garlic pickers died along with 18 suspected
Islamic militants in a three-day shootout in the mountainous
forests that straddle two other North Caucasus provinces,
Ingushetia and Chechnya.

The Memorial rights group today said the four were
villagers caught in the crossfire and then dragged away and
executed while gathering the wild shoots to sell at local
markets.

On Friday, a leading Russian newspaper published a photo showing a doe-eyed teenager, partly veiled, in the embrace of a bearded man — both grasping handguns. Russian investigators confirmed that one of the subway attackers was a 17-year-old widow from Dagestan named Dzhanet Abdurakhmanova, but would not say if the photo in the Kommersant newspaper was her.

The newspaper indicated that she may have been out to avenge her husband, Umalat Magomedov, an Islamic militant killed by Russian forces in December.

Kommersant published what it said was a picture of Abdurakhmanova, also known as Abdullayeva, dressed in a black Muslim headscarf and holding a Makarov pistol. Federal investigators said she attacked the Park Kultury subway station near the famous Gorky Park.

Kommersant said the couple met in an Internet chat. Magomedov then set up a meeting and drove her away by force when she was still 16. After her husband`s death, Abdurakhmanova may have fallen under the influence of Islamists, who try to persuade widows and close relatives that they need to sacrifice their lives to avenge their slain husbands, sons and brothers.

"That shooting was just lunacy," said Alexander
Cherkasov, a Memorial spokesman. "And that lunacy was used to
justify terrorism."

Umarov, in his video message Wednesday, called them "some
of the poorest people" in the already impoverished region.

"These people were mercilessly destroyed," he said.
Dagestan in particular has been the epicentre of a week
of violence. Today, three militants there opened fire on
police in a drive-by shooting, killing one and injuring
another. Two other suicide bombers struck Wednesday near
Dagestan`s border with Chechnya, killing 12 people. Another
explosion there Thursday killed two suspected militants.

Dagestan`s Interior Ministry spokesman Vyacheslav
Gadzhiyev told The Associated Press that today`s shooting
occurred near the village of Chontaul, 70 kilometres northwest
of the provincial capital of Makhachkala.

Russian officials were still pressing hard today to learn
more about the Moscow suicide bombers.

On Friday, a leading Russian newspaper published a photo
showing a doe-eyed teenager, partly veiled, in the embrace of
a bearded man - both grasping handguns. Federal investigators
confirmed that a 17-year-old widow from Dagestan named Dzhanet
Abdurakhmanova attacked the Park Kultury subway station near
Moscow`s famous Gorky Park.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, April 3, 2010 - 21:30

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