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9 Sep, 2009 07:17

Police foil terrorist attacks planned for Moscow

Two terrorist attacks have been prevented in Moscow by law enforcement agencies. Police discovered suicide bombers were going to use sneakers containing explosives as potential weapons.

One terrorist was shot dead and another was arrested during the police operation.

Russian Kommersant daily, citing sources close to the investigation, reports that the first attack was planned to coincide with the capital's City Day celebrations last Saturday, while the second was set for Monday.

According to the newspaper, the plan was uncovered thanks to detention of four militants in the Russian North Caucasian Republic of Chechnya, who told investigators about the suicide bombers – two cousins Islam Batayev and Bekhan Ospanov. The brother of the latter carried out a suicide bombing in Chechnya on August 25.

On Friday, Chechen police stopped a taxi carrying 29-year-old Bekhan Ospanov, who opened fire on police and was killed when the officers shot back. Examining the corpse, officers found several detonators and railways tickets to Moscow for September 7 in the man’s pockets. Explosives were hidden in the soles of his running shoes.

The suspect had poor eyesight and lost his glasses during the shootout, which, apparently, helped to avoid victims among the police officers. Notably, it’s quite common, the newspaper writes, that militants use people with physical or mental disabilities for suicide attacks.

The second suspect, who according to investigators was going to carry out a bombing on Saturday, was detained in northeastern Moscow. A suicide belt packed with explosives and shrapnel was found at the scene.

According to investigators, when training the suicide bombers, militants used not only ideological methods but also psychotropic substances. The detainees claim they were given some liquid which, after drinking, made them were fall into a trance-like state. Blood analysis will be carried out.

There has been a rise in violence in Chechnya and the neighboring republics in recent months, with almost daily reports of shootouts or suicide bombings.