MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) – Powerful bombs have been discovered at the entrance to a Shiite mosque in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said Monday.
The power of the explosive devices, found and defused early on Monday in the town of Khasavyurt, on the border with Chechnya, was equivalent to 80 kilograms of TNT, the committee said.
“It is evident that the perpetrators planned to commit their crime in the month of Ramadan, a time of religious fasting that is holy for Muslims,” the anti-terrorism agency said. This year, Ramadan began on July 9.
The committee said the suspects were reportedly members of a local gang.
Other members of the same gang, it said, had killed one person and shot several others in the same mosque a year ago. The gang had also planted another explosive device at the holy site, but it was defused by authorities.
The Islamist insurgency, once confined largely to the republic of Chechnya, has in recent years spread across the North Caucasus. Attacks on security forces, police and civilians are reported regularly in the republics of Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.
Over a decade after the war against Islamist separatists in Chechnya ended, Russian security forces and police continue to fight militants in the volatile region.