Tags: Russia | attacks | Chechen | subway

Russians Fear More Chechen Attacks

Tuesday, 30 March 2010 09:00 AM

A change in tactics among Chechnya's militants is threatening to bring their nationalist fight to the heart of Russia's cities, terrorism analysts fear.

The warning came as Russian investigators said they believed Chechen rebels were responsible for Monday's twin suicide bombings in Moscow's subway network that killed at least 39 people.

The Russia-Chechnya conflict dates back nearly 20 years, with Chechens having laid claim to land in the Caucasus Mountains region. Thousands have been killed and 500,000 Chechen people have been displaced from the fighting. The area is located in the North Caucasus region of Russia between the Black and Caspian seas.

Read how Chechen rebels threaten Russian stability

For the last 5 years the war has been largely fought in the Caucasus but, according to terrorism analyst Chris Hunter, the tide has been turning against the rebels. "They don't have the same sort of supply chain they used to have," he said, adding that pressure from the Russian military had taken its toll.

Now there are suspicions that Doku Umarov, the 45-year-old self-styled emir of the Russian North Caucasus, is taking the battle into Russia itself.

Until now Umarov, a veteran of Chechnya's nationalist fight with Russia, has been against killing civilians. He was critical of the Beslan attack in which Chechens killed more than 100 schoolchildren in 2004.

While he has not claimed responsibility for Monday's subway bombings, if he is behind them, it would demonstrate a change in tactics due partly, analysts suspect, to a reliance on funding to continue the fight from radical Islamists such as al Qaeda.

"It's got to the stage where the Chechens in particular are potentially looking out to the global jihad for that level of support," said Hunter.

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Tuesday, 30 March 2010 09:00 AM
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