Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 191

According to the Russian military command, fifteen people were killed yesterday in an explosion in Djohar [Grozny], the Chechen capital. Eight of the victims were reportedly killed on the spot, seven died later in the hospital and twenty-one hospitalized as a result of the blast. The explosion was caused a bomb with the equivalent of ten kilograms of TNT, which was placed in an automobile parked near a police station in the Oktyabrsky district of the capital. Both police personnel and civilians were among the dead. According to one official account, the bomb appeared to have been set off by remote control, and was aimed at killing civilians–locals gathered at the police department to receive Russian passports. However, a military spokesman said the blast seemed to have been timed to coincide with the arrival of prosecutors to the police station. Following the blast, law enforcement authorities in the city tightened security, carefully inspecting all cars and even stopping women for document checks. Helicopters are patrolling the Kavkaz highway. Law enforcement sources told the Interfax news agency today that three suspects in the blasts had been arrested. Eyewitnesses reportedly saw a Zhiguli car leaving the scene of the bombing, and the car and its three occupants were detained in the town of Urus-Martan (Russian agencies, Associated Press, Reuters, October 12).

The bombing, which was apparently carried out by Chechen separatists, was one of the largest terrorist acts during the current military campaign in the breakaway republic. It would appear that Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has kept his promise to begin a new phase in the war–a bombing campaign–and the Kremlin has once again demonstrated its inability to act. As the Monitor previously noted, a series of terrorist bombings took place this week in Stavropol Krai, precisely in those towns and cities where the Chechen rebels had organized attacks in the past. It also seems that Moscow’s position is weakening greatly. Gen. Valery Baranov, the commander of the federal forces in Chechnya, indirectly conceded this, noting that his forces recently have been defusing bombs similar to the one that exploded in the Chechen capital yesterday across the republic on a daily basis (Russian agencies, October 12; see also the Monitor, October 12).