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Terrorist Attacks - August-September 1999

The 31 August 1999 bombing at a military housing complex in Dagestan left 65 people dead, most of them dependents of Russian soldiers battling Muslim insurgents there. Three terrorist explosions in Moscow, one in a shopping mall on 31 August, two others in apartment buildings on 09 September and 13 September, took more than 260 lives. Investigators determined that the Moscow apartment blasts were caused by huge explosive charges planted in vacant ground floor shops and offices. On 16 September another explosion hit a Russian apartment block, this time in the southern Russian city of Volgodonsk, near the volatile Caucasus region, killing at least 17-people, and injuring 150. All explosions took place at night.

Russian authorities linked the blasts to Islamic militants in Chechnya and Dagestan, but produced little evidence to prove their assertions. Russian security authorities launched a massive manhunt, dubbed "Operation Whirlwind," for the people responsible for the bombings. Moscow papers were rife with comment on the bombings, portrayed universally as part of the "war" between "Russia and fundamentalist Islam." Chechen officials, including President Aslan Maskhadov and renegade warlord Shamil Basayev, denied any involvement in the bombings in Russia.

Russian authorities accused Chechnya of sheltering Islamic militants who staged attacks against villages in neighboring Dagestan in an attempt to establish an independent Islamic state. The bombing attacks of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk in the summer of 1999 killed almost 300 persons in Russia. After this series of bomb blasts, Russian public opinion shifted solidly in favor of a renewed campaign aimed at reversing the result of the previous war.

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