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Saturday, September 18, 1999 Published at 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK

World: Europe

Russian push against rebels

High security in the wake of the Moscow bombs

Russian aircraft attacked guerrilla bases in the breakaway Caucasian republic of Chechnya on Friday night, as Russia tightened its internal security after a series of bomb blasts.

Terror in Russia
  • Who is to blame?
  • What Russia can do
  • Timeline: The blasts which shook Russia
  • A Russian military spokesman told the Itar-Tass news agency that the latest raids were intended to prevent further attacks on Dagestan by Chechen-based guerrillas.

    On Friday, the Russian parliament endorsed plans to continue air strikes against Chechen rebel bases.

    Independent sources in Moscow have dismissed earlier reports that Russian military vehicles had crossed into Chechnya.

    The Chechen chief-of-staff in Grozny earlier told Interfax news agency that motorised units had ventured about 1.5km (one mile) into Chechnya.

    FBI heads for Moscow

    The BBC's Stephen Dalziel: FBI will be able to offer definite assistance
    Russian security forces are maintaining a high profile on the streets of Moscow following the recent spate of bomb attacks on residential buildings.

    An FBI team is on its way to Russia to assist in the investigation.

    [ image: Bombs in Russian cities have killed more than 300 people]
    Bombs in Russian cities have killed more than 300 people
    FBI officials will try to help the Russian security services identify what kind of explosive devices have been used.

    In the past 10 days, bombs have destroyed two blocks of flats in Moscow and badly damaged another in the southern town of Volgodonsk, killing a total of more than 300 people.

    The FBI officials may also be able to help ascertain whether an explosion in a flat in St Petersburg on Thursday night was related to the other bombings.

    Stop and search

    Russian police have been conducting identity checks, apparently concentrating on people whose appearance suggests Caucasian origins.

    More than 10,000 people were reported to have been stopped and searched or questioned on Friday.

    Thousands of traders from Azerbaijan who live in Moscow on temporary residence permits now have to re-register, or risk deportation.

    [ image: Russia has sent reinforcements to Dagestan in recent weeks]
    Russia has sent reinforcements to Dagestan in recent weeks
    The Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, has called for all Russians to be given anti-terrorist training.

    But Russian civilians have already begun organising regular patrols to search for suspicious packages and to question strangers.

    Moscow blames the rebels for the blasts, an accusation denied by the Chechen authorities.

    The Chechen authorities have accused Russia of aggression, saying recent Russian air raids have claimed more than 200 lives.

    "Russian war planes have been making night-time air strikes on sleeping women, children and old men," Chechen Vice-President Vakha Arsanov said.

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