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Russian rail blast involved Islamist tactics - investigators

RIA Novosti

12:47 02/12/2009 MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti) - The bomb attack that derailed a Russian express train last week killing 26 people and injuring over 90 bore the hallmarks of Islamist terrorism, a top investigator has said.

The high-speed Nevsky Express train derailed on Friday en route from Moscow to St.Petersburg after a bomb equivalent to 7 kg (15 lbs) of TNT detonated on the track. A second, weaker bomb exploded at the site on Saturday, and is believed to have targeted investigators.

Investigators said the second explosive device had a remote detonator and was activated using a cell phone.

Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigation Committee, who was injured in the second explosion, said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta paper that "such tactics have been used by terrorists in the North Caucasus."

The Kavkaz Center website published on Wednesday a letter from Islamist extremists who claimed responsibility for the bombing.

"This operation was prepared and carried out as part of a series of acts of sabotage on strategic facilities in line with orders from the Emir of the Caucasus, Doku Umarov," the website said.

Militants quoted by the website threatened to continue terrorist attacks in Russia in a bid to end the Russian "occupation" of the North Caucasus.

Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, as well as former Russian soldier Pavel Kosolapov, are wanted in Russia over a 2007 bombing on the same train line.

The two Nevsky Express trains running between St. Petersburg and Moscow had been due to be removed from the route as of December 18, when the new high-speed Sapsan train built by Siemens comes into operation. Russian Railways has said the terrorist attack will not affect the launch of the new trains, built at a cost of 276 million euros ($416 million).

Emergency officials said the death toll in the worst terrorist attack in Russia outside the North Caucasus in recent years was 26, correcting earlier reports on 27 dead.

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