A string of fatal blasts in Russia last week shows that the North Caucasus problem continues to threaten the country’s security. Last Monday morning, explosions in two separate Moscow subway trains reportedly caused by suicide bombers killed 39 people and injured some 70 others.
On Wednesday morning, 12 people were killed and some 30 others injured in two blasts in the town of Kizlyar in Dagestan, near the border with Chechnya. Suicide bombers were also blamed for these blasts. On Thursday night, two people were killed and another injured in a car explosion in the village of Toturbykala in the Khasavurtsky region, Dagestan — also near the border with Chechnya. The car was carrying an explosive.
The Moscow explosions occurred during the morning rush hour — the first at the Lubyanka station, just beneath the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor body of the Soviet-era KGB, and very close to the Kremlin, and the second about 40 minutes later at the Park Kultury station, six stops away from Lubyanka. FSB believes that two female suicide bombers linked to “terrorist groups related to the North Caucasus” carried out the bomb attacks.
The blasts are the first terrorist attacks in the Russian capital since August 2004 when an explosion caused by a female suicide bomber outside a subway station killed 10 people. In February that year, a bomb blast in a subway train killed 40 people. Chechen rebels are blamed for the attacks.
Terrorism cannot be condoned, but it should not be forgotten that young people whose family members became victims of the FSB’s and the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ antiterrorism operations in the North Caucasus are joining militant groups. The Moscow attacks might have been triggered by the killing of Islamist rebel leader Alexander Tikhomirov and seven other rebels in early March by FSB in the Caucasus region of Ingushetia.
No matter how many rebel leaders are killed, new rebel leaders will emerge. Russian authorities need to consider how they can eliminate the social and political problems that are spawning hatred and leading to terrorist attacks.
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