MOSCOW, Dec. 9#A midday explosion Tuesday just hundreds of yards from the Kremlin left as many as six people dead and another 13 injured here in the Russian capital in what authorities called a terrorist attack.
The blast about 11 a.m. outside the prestigious National Hotel shut down the heart of Moscow and put the city on edge. The attack came just four days after a suicide bombing killed 44 people on a commuter train in southern Russia near war-torn Chechnya and just two days after parliamentary elections.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov raced to the scene of Tuesday’s attack, just blocks from his city hall office, and told reporters that it appeared to be the work of one or perhaps two female suicide bombers. Officials told Russian media that the bomber may have been targeting the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, which has its headquarters just across the street from the National Hotel. A woman stopped to ask for directions to the Duma when the explosion detonated, Russian media reported.
But authorities soon reversed direction and said the body of at least one woman found at the scene and identified as Chechen was probably not a bomber.
All 450 seats in the Duma were filled by Sunday’s election, which bolstered President Vladimir Putin’s control over the chamber and sent a large bloc of nationalists to parliament while ousting Western-oriented democrats. The indication that the Duma may have been the target immediately prompted angry reactions from political leaders.