Russia uncovers narrow New Year terror escape

In the evening of December 31, just as most Russians were preparing their tables for feasts to celebrate the New Year, the south eastern outskirts of Moscow were rocked by a mysterious explosion.

Updated: Feb 02, 2011, 10:34 AM IST

Moscow: In the evening of December 31, just
as most Russians were preparing their tables for feasts to
celebrate the New Year, the south eastern outskirts of Moscow
were rocked by a mysterious explosion.

Barely noticed at the time as Muscovites geared up to see
in 2011, the blast killed one and severely damaged a guest
house on the territory of a shooting club.

But according to Russian investigators, by a sheer stroke
of good fortune the blast meant the Russian capital escaped
twin suicide bombings that could have killed dozens and
shadowed New Year celebrations for years to come.

For, officials say, the woman who was killed in the
December 31 blast was a suicide bomber who was preparing to
blow herself up hours later along with another female in
central Moscow in the throng of New Year revellers.

The attacks had only been prevented as the woman --
trained by North Caucasus Islamist militants -- had set off
her suicide belt by accident before heading into the city
centre.

The second potential female suicide bomber took fright
after the explosion and then fled for the south of Russia but
was arrested by the security forces.

"As a result of the explosion a woman who was to be a
suicide bomber died. Her companion, who was also intending to
blow herself up, was arrested," Russia`s national anti-terror
committee said in a statement.

Officials in public comments have denied a link to the
January 24 bombing at Moscow Domodedovo airport that killed 35
and was blamed on militants from the North Caucasus.

But the fact the New Year plot was only revealed after
that attack has led to intense speculation as more details
emerge that they could be connected in a joint plot.

Russian state television yesterday named the woman who
died in the explosion on December 31 as Zavzhat Daudova, the
husband of a leading Islamist militant from the North Caucasus
region of Dagestan, Ibragimkhalil Daudov.

According to Kommersant, he was an expert in fridge
repairs before turning to the Islamist underground three years
ago.

He took over as head of a local Islamist group from
Magomedali Vagabov, a militant killed by security forces last
year who was seen as the mastermind of the March suicide
bombings on the Moscow metro that killed 40.

The couple had three sons, two of whom, Magomed and
Magomedshapi, were killed by the security forces. But one,
Magomedkhabib, survived to become an Islamist militant.

PTI