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Deadly Explosion Strikes Russian Parade

BY Admin  May 9, 2002 at 6:36 PM EDT

Thursday’s blast ripped through the main street of Kaspiisk, a port town on the Caspian Sea about 1000 miles south of Moscow.

Russian officials reported that a remote-controlled mine hidden in bushes exploded shortly before 10am local time as a military band, surrounded by children and World War II veterans, marched through a square in the city.

Officials also reported that the bomb contained nuts, bolts and nails. Local police estimate that the blast injured approximately 150 people.

No groups have claimed responsibility for the bombing, although Islamic militants from the predominantly Islamic republic of Chechnya are widely suspected. Rebels in Chechnya have been waging a bitter war of independence from Russian rule for several years.

Victory Day is one of the biggest annual holidays in Russia, commemorating the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany 57 years ago. Referred to as the Great Patriotic War, World War II cost 27 million Russian lives and serves as a point of unification for the vast country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded angrily, telling a Kremlin reception that the bombing “was committed by scum who hold nothing sacred.” Putin blamed the attack on “terrorists,” whom he said should be treated “like Nazis.”

President Putin then called an emergency meeting of his top law enforcement and defense officials.

Dagestan has often seen small-scale bombings, usually an overflow of violence from neighboring Chechnya. Six years ago, Kaspiisk was the scene of a bombing that killed 68 people, many of them Russian border guards. Officials never determined who was behind the bombing.

The Russian province declared Friday a day of mourning.