Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 14

On March 24, car bombs took the lives of twenty-three persons and wounded 153 in the towns of Mineral’nye Vody and Essentuki (both in Stavropol’ Krai) and in a village near Cherkessk in the autonomous republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia (RIA Novosti, March 30). Russian government spokesmen charged “Chechen terrorists” with having committed these acts (for example, in an official statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated March 27), but, as the investigation broadened, it emerged that few, if any, ethnic Chechens had been involved. Russian law enforcement officials, however, continued to assert that links exist between the bombers and training camps operated within Chechnya by the shadowy field commander Khattab, who is, of course, an Arab.