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Parade Attack Near Chechnya Kills 36, Including 13 Children

By Sharon LaFraniere
THE WASHINGTON POST -- moscow

Thirty-six people, including 13 children, died Thursday morning when a bomb ripped through a military parade in a town near the volatile region of Chechnya, in southwest Russia. Local authorities said more than 150 people were injured.

Black smoke billowed down the main street of Kaspiisk, a Caspian Sea port of 12,000, after the blast tore a hole in the sidewalk just as a military band marched by en route to a wreath-laying ceremony at the local cemetery. Video footage showed children darting between the rows of band members, pretending to march with them.

Authorities said the bomb packed 6 to 11 pounds of TNT, metal balls, plates and screws and was probably remote-controlled.

It was the worst such attack in Russia since Sept. 13, 1999, when explosives hidden in sugar sacks in a Moscow apartment building killed 119 people.

President Vladimir Putin blamed the bombing on “scum who hold nothing sacred.”

Officials in Kaspiisk suggested the obvious suspects were Islamic militants from neighboring Chechnya, roughly 100 miles west. Chechen separatists, aided by bands of foreign fighters, stage regular attacks against the Russian military there.

That suspicion was bolstered by the fact that it occurred on Victory Day, when Russians celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany 57 years ago. Nearly six decades after the war’s end, the holiday is still one of the most revered dates on the Russian calendar.

Putin, who apparently learned of the attack as he watched thousands of elite Russian troops march through Red Square this morning, said Russia would treat its new enemy as it did the Nazis and recalled the Soviet Union’s World War II slogan: “Kill the viper.”

“Today is the most cherished holiday for our people. Even on such a day, bandits without any emotion are killing innocent people, including children,” he told a crowd gathered near the Kremlin for the celebration.