Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, August 03, 2003

Military Hospital Explosion in Russia Kills 44

The death toll of the Friday bombing at a southern Russian military hospital reached 44 by Saturday evening, according to Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky.


The death toll of the Friday bombing at a southern Russian military hospital reached 44 by Saturday evening, according to Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky.

A KamAZ truck stuffed with explosives rammed through the gate of the hospital in the city of Mozdok in North Ossetia, a neighboring region of Chechnya, and exploded near the management building at around 7 p.m. Moscow time Friday.

79 people were wounded in the suicide attack and they are now receiving treatment in hospitals based in Mozdok, Rostov, St. Petersburg and Moscow, Interfax reported, adding that none of the patient suffers serious injuries at present.

The power of the explosives is equal to over 1 ton of TNT and the blast created a 12-meter-wide and 4-meter-deep crater in the ground, according to Fridinsky.

36 bodies of the victims have been identified so far, Interfax said.

Mozdok is the headquarters for Russian forces fighting in Chechnya and has been targeted by attackers before. Fridinsky saidFriday that he was inclined to view the blast as an act of revengefrom the rebel groups in Chechnya since military personnel who fought against Chechen rebels were being treated at the hospital.

There were 125 people in the hospital when the explosion occurred Friday, including military and civilian patients and medical workers, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov revealed Saturday.

Ivanov arrived in Mozdok at Saturday noon, hoping to find out all circumstances of the act of terrorism as well as to maintain security of military objects and personnel of the Joint Military Grouping (JMG) in the North Caucasus.

The defense minister, who took the one-day trip to Mozdok underthe order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, revealed that investigation has found out who owned the truck that was driven into the hospital by a suicide terrorist, but the information was withheld in the interests of the investigation.

The terrorist act proved possible because of disobeying specialsecurity orders on Mozdok, rather than mere carelessness, Ivanov said at a press conference in Mozdok.

����He also noted that the retrieved explosives "ammonia saltpetre"are similar to the one used in the recent terrorist acts in Moscow.


����The official vowed that the Mozdok military hospital will be restored, but not on its former site.

����Latest sources from the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office showthat the chief of the bomb-demolished hospital in Mozdok has been arrested for suspected "failure to carry out an order" and "criminal negligence."

����Putin expressed deep condolences in a Saturday telegram to the relatives of the victims in the terrorist act and to those injuredin the attack, wishing them to "hold strength and courage in thesesorrowful hours."

����"The terrorist act committed in the hospital in Mozdok proves once again of inhumanity and brutality of bandits who are seeking to destabilize the situation in the North Caucasus," the leader remarked.

����He said that the terrorists will fail in imposing their criminal will and their bloody, evil deeds will not stop the process of political settlement and restoration of normal peacefullife.

����All interior affairs units in the Southern Federal District areworking round-the-clock under the command of the Russian Interior Ministry and Moscow police has also been put on high alert following the broke out of the blast in Mozdok.


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