Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov offered a reward of $1 million yesterday for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators of last week’s two bus bombings. Luzhkov’s announcement came amid a security crackdown in the capital city that, according to Moscow city police, has led to the arrest and questioning of over 6,000 people. Those arrested were said to have been exhibiting suspicious behavior in public places and many were reportedly charged with breaking the city’s registration regulations. Police using bomb-sniffing dogs were said to have investigated 163 suspicious objects. (Itar-Tass, UPI, July 15)
The actions of the police follow Luzhkov’s pledge on July 12 that Moscow would be "cleansed not only of homeless down-and-outs, but also those elements that we consider dangerous." Despite denials of complicity by Chechen leaders, as well as the absence of evidence linking Chechen groups to the bombs, Luzhkov has pointed to a Caucasus connection. Over the weekend police circulated an indentikit picture of a swarthy and dark-haired man, said to be a suspect in one of the bombings. It was just one indication that the city’s population of ethnic Caucasians is likely to face a tough time.
Twenty-eight people were injured in the second, July 12 bus blast, including seven reported in serious and one in critical condition. Initial reports that one person had died in the blast were denied by city officials. The bomb, described by Federal Security officials as equivalent to 300 grams of TNT, was said to have been similar to, but twice as strong, as the one that detonated a day earlier. Police reportedly received more than 50 bomb threats on July 12, but no one claimed responsibility for the bus blasts. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, July 12-14)
"Special Operations" Continue in Southern Chechnya.