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Death Toll In Chechen Explosion Rises To 13

8 February 2006 -- The death toll from an explosion at a military barracks in Chechnya on 7 February has risen to 13 after one of the injured in the blast died in a hospital today.

Officials said 20 people remained hospitalized following the blast. Chechnya's chief prosecutor, Valery Kuznetsov, said investigators believed the most likely cause of the explosion was a natural-gas leak.

"So far the main reason under consideration is a gas explosion because we have found gas cylinders at the site. We are considering several versions, including a terrorist act, but the main version at this time is a gas explosion," Kuznetsov said.

Kuznetsov later said no traces of explosives had been found at the site.

The explosion caused the two-story building in the town of Kurchaloi, east of the capital Grozny, to collapse.

The Kurchaloi barracks houses a special Defense Ministry security unit.

(newsru.con, ITAR-TASS, Interfax)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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