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    9 DEMOLITION EXPERTS ARRESTED IN CHECHNYA

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    GROZNY, April 5 (RIA Novosti) - The Operational Staff for controlling the counter terrorist operation in the North Caucasus told RIA Novosti that nine terrorists, demolition specialists, were detained during a special operation in Chechnya.

    "Using information obtained from militants in custody and those who gave themselves up, the power structures detained nine terrorists, demolition men, implicated in making improvised explosive devices," Colonel Ilya Shabalkin, the spokesman for the headquarters said. "The arrested men are being investigated."

    According to him, federal forces and the Chechen president's security service carried out several special operations in the mountains and the forests to arrest members of bandit formations who were preparing large-scale terrorist attacks both in and outside of Chechnya. As many as 15 bases and 14 caches with weapons and explosives were found and destroyed. The caches and bases contained a sizeable amount of weapons, ammunition and improvised explosive devices.

    Col. Shabalkin noted that three high-yield improvised directional explosive devices were discovered in a cache in the outskirts of Semashki, a settlement in the Achkhoi-Martan district. "It has been established that they were assembled by the members of Doku Umarov's bandit group," the colonel said. He explained that the bandits made them by welding thick metal - the bombs were shaped like tank rounds and had a one meter diameter and were up to 30 centimeters thick. They were filled with TNT and an explosive mixture and were stuffed with nuts, bolts and metal scraps to make them more destructive.

    According to experts, each confiscated improvised explosive device had a yield of 40 kilograms of TNT. If such a device were detonated in a crowded place, at least 300 people would be killed or injured.

    Analysis of operational information and information from militants who turned themselves in, including commanders or those in the inner circle of Aslan Maskhadov, a separatist leader, made the special operation possible.

    Twenty-four anti-tank grenade launchers, more than 40 small arms, about 20,000 small arm cartridges, 38 hand grenades, 23 different caliber artillery shells and mortar bombs, explosives (TNT, plastic, and explosive mixtures) weighing roughly 150 kilograms, and 14 improvised explosive devices, including high-yield bombs, were confiscated in special operations in different districts of the republic. Most of the explosive devices were small bombs that were disguised as packages of juices, beer cans and perfume boxes. Most likely, these devices were designed to be put in public places in different cities.

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