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21 Aug, 2009 21:18

Series of blasts rock Chechnya’s capital

Death toll in Russia’s Republic of Chechya rises to five people after a wave of explosions rocked the capital Grozny, and three others have been wounded. The suicide bombers were riding bicycles.

“At 13.25 a blast went off in Pervomaisky street not far from the “Khalyal” shop. According to the preliminary data, a suicide bomber riding a bicycle approached two on-duty policemen and detonated the explosives. Both policemen were killed,” Russia’s Investigative Committee stated.

A woman who happened to be at the scene was injured and later died from the wounds, reports say.

The second bomb reportedly went off in Zhukovsky street. A suicide bomber, also riding a bicycle detonated an explosive device as he passed by a policeman who was standing near a car parked at the time. Two policemen died in the blast.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said that the policemen paid with their lives to avoid civilian casualties.

“We received information that someone was plotting a terrorist act,” he said. “Our Interior Ministry tried to prevent it and as a result militants blew themselves up.”

Kadyrov added that the first terrorist was heading to Grozny Stadium, which was packed with people, and the second to the main bridge across Sunzha River, which was busy with traffic.

Both terrorists have already been identified. One is named as 18-year-old Grozny resident Ilyas Batalov and the second is 24-year-old Shamil Saltakhanov from the Chechen town of Argun. His passport was found at the scene where he blew himself up, Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said.

Chechen law enforcement forces are searching for two young men, allegedly also riding bicycles, who may be planning further attacks, said President Ramzan Kadyrov, speaking with the journalists.

Despite the explosions the situation remains calm and is being controlled by the republic’s law enforcement bodies, the President underlined.

The string of blasts comes as the Muslim republic gets ready to celebrate holy holiday of Ramadan.

Earlier this week a terror attack in the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia claimed 25 lives and left approximately 160 people injured. This follows a recent announcement by President Medvedev that he is dissatisfied with the security situation in the northern Caucasus.