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DATE=9/16/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA - EXPLOSION UPDATE (L) NUMBER=2-253948 BYLINE=EVE CONANT DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: ///// ED'S: PLEASE UPDATE CASUALTY NUMBERS WITH LATEST CN. ///// INTRO: Rescue workers are searching for survivors after an explosion shattered an apartment building in southern Russia, killing at least 17-people, and injuring 150. Correspondent Eve Conant in Moscow reports that this is the fourth major explosion to hit Russia in two-weeks. TEXT: Another explosion has hit a Russian apartment block, this time in the southern Russian city of Volgodonsk, near the volatile Caucasus region. Security officials say traces of explosives were found near the site. Spokesman for the Rostov region Emergencies Ministry, Valery Zakharov, says officials believe the blast originated from a vehicle parked between the building and a police station next door. /// ACT ZAKHAROV IN RUSSIAN IN FULL AND FADE UNDER /// He says a truck parked between the two buildings exploded, destroying the front of the apartment block. Security officials say the facade of the building was destroyed, and as many as 20 nearby buildings were damaged. They say a greater tragedy may have been averted because the explosion took place outside the building, which had been examined and secured one-day before as part of a nationwide security operation. Russia's Emergency Situations Minister, Sergey Shoigu, says investigators are exploring all possible sources for the blast. No one has claimed responsibility for the bomb but Federal Security Services spokesman Alexander Zdanovich says it is a clear case of terrorism. /// ACT ZDANOVICH IN RUSSIAN IN FULL AND FADE UNDER. /// He says -- there is no doubt this was a terrorist act, all these explosions are links in the same chain. This apartment block explosion follows three other major blasts in Russia, one in Dagestan where Islamic militants have been fighting Russian troops, and two others in Moscow. All explosions took place at night, and more than 270-people died in those three attacks. Police forces have been conducting massive security sweeps in Moscow and other large cities, checking for explosives and rounding up suspects. Russian authorities have linked the previous blasts to Islamic militants in Chechnya and Dagestan, but have produced little evidence to prove their assertions. Chechen militant leaders have denied involvement in the attacks. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Russians have been turned into -- second-class citizens in their own home. ///ACT PUTIN IN RUSSIAN IN FULL AND FADE UNDER/// He says -- now that we realize the danger facing us we must mobilize all forces and resources to strangle this evil at its root. President Boris Yeltsin said Thursday that Russia was working to tighten the border around Chechnya and that all transport links with the breakaway region should be cut. Interior Ministry sources said Thursday that more than one-thousand militants were gathering in Chechnya near the border with Dagestan. The Interfax news agency quotes Mr. Yeltsin as saying -- Russia has the strength and resources to do away with terrorism. (SIGNED) NEB/EC/GE/RAE 16-Sep-1999 07:39 AM EDT (16-Sep-1999 1139 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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