The Financial Times – The US is to investigate possible links between suicide bombs in Saudi Arabia and Chechyna after a second attack in the rebel Russian republic on Wednesday. A female suicide bomber killed 14 people and injured scores more in a Chechen town , officials said. The attack came two days after a suicide truck bombing on Monday at a Russian government complex east of the capital Grozny, which killed 59 people.
The bombings have over-shadowed US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s diplomatic mission this week. Terrorists struck three foreigners’ compounds in Riyadh on the eve of Mr Powell’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The second Chechen suicide attack came as Mr Powell was preparing to meet Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Wednesday’s attack is deeply embarrassing for Mr Putin, who is looking at ways to offer Chechnya greater autonomy within the Russia republic.
The woman who carried out Wednesday’s attack was named as Shakhida Baimuratova, a Chechen separatist rebel. She was targeting the pro-Moscow head of the region’s administration, Akhmad Kadyrov, posing as a journalist, reports said, at a Muslim religious festival near the town of Iliskhan-Yurt, east of the Chechen capital Grozny.
“Kadyrov was speaking into the microphone from a stage, calling people to pray for peace. The woman approached him and his bodyguards rushed towards her. She then detonated the bomb,” said Mr Kadyrov’s spokesman in Moscow.
Mr Kadyrov escaped unhurt.
Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, said the FBI’s assessment team was being sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate the Riyadh attacks, which claimed 34 lives including seven Americans.
Mr Fleischer said any connection between the bombs in Chechnya and Saudi Arabia would be investigated. He said there are known to be “links and ties” between terrorists.
Russian investigators have argued that the bombing on Monday bears some of the hallmarks of explosions in 1999 in Russia, and they have linked the latest blasts to Abu Walid, a leading rebel in Chechnya.
Mr Putin said the two attacks “bore the same imprint”. Mr Fleischer also dismissed suggestions from some Senate Democrats that the Bush administration had allowed the resurgence of terrorism because its attentions had been diverted by Iraq. Bob Graham, Democratic senator from Florida, and a candidate for the 2004 presidential nomination, said on Tuesday that al Qaeda “has been allowed to regenerate” and carry out a series of attacks. “[This] indicates that they have significant capability to carry out complicated operations in a simultaneous manner,” he said.