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Chechen Terror Plots Alleged; 60 Detained

October 18, 2003|From Associated Press

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia — Authorities detained 60 people suspected of belonging to groups planning to carry out terrorist attacks to disrupt the weekend inauguration of Chechnya's president, officials said Friday.

Col. Ilya Shabalkin, a spokesman for the Russian headquarters of what the Kremlin calls its anti-terrorist operation in the northern Caucasus, said law enforcement and security agencies were searching for more than 100 other suspects, the Interfax news agency reported.

Shabalkin said the suspects planned to disrupt Sunday's inauguration of Akhmad Kadyrov, the Kremlin-appointed administration chief in Chechnya who won the presidential election in the republic this month in a vote many regarded as stage-managed by Moscow.

Shabalkin said the groups were linked to Aslan Maskhadov, the separatist who was elected president of Chechnya in 1997 but was now wanted by Russian authorities, and Shamil Basayev, a top rebel warlord.

Shabalkin said the groups had received funding from Abu Walid, an Arab militant whom Russian authorities have accused of being behind attacks in Chechnya, Interfax reported.

The news agency quoted Shabalkin as saying 37 of the suspects were detained in Ingushetia, a small republic adjoining Chechnya.

Shabalkin said authorities had confiscated large quantities of weapons and ammunition from the detainees -- about enough to fill a truck -- and Russian television showed footage of guns, grenade launchers and other weapons that Shabalkin said had been seized.

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