– MAGAS FSB BOMBING
On Monday 09/05/2003, at about 11:00, a truck laden with explosives blew up outside the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) headquarters in Magas, Ingushetia, killing 3 people and injuring at least 25. The explosion left the three-story building severely damaged but still standing. Mikhail Safonov, the deputy chief of the FSB’s Chechnya branch, was in the building at the time of the blast and was injured. The track was driven by two suicide bombers in the cabin in order to calm the guards, who were extremely suspicious when a track only with one driver in the cabin approached the compound. According to Russian intelligence sources the attack was orchestrated by Magomed Evloev .
The bombing in Ingushetia, which has close ethnic ties to Chechnya and shelters tens of thousands of Chechen refugees, came ahead of a planned 10/05/2003 presidential election in Chechnya. The Kremlin has touted the vote as a key step toward peace, but the campaign has been tarnished by accusations of intimidation tactics by supporters of Chechnya’s Moscow-appointed acting leader, Akhmad Kadyrov (see – Kadyrov Assassination).
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. Russian officials called it a terrorist act but did not say who they believed was behind it. The FSB had been leading the Russian campaign against Chechen rebels but, recently, handed control over to the Russian Interior Ministry, a shift which officials said was a sign that the situation in Chechnya was becoming more stable.
The upcoming presidential election was presented as a sign of emerging peace, but critics said that this was wishful thinking. Separatist fighters continued to stage daily attacks on federal troops and pro-Moscow police, while civilians accused the military of arbitrary detentions and killings.
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