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Russia hunts 21-strong 'Black Widow' cell as first images of suicide bombers are released

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03/30/2010 07:00 PM
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Russia hunts 21-strong 'Black Widow' cell as first images of suicide bombers are released
[link to www.dailymail.co.uk]

The first images of the 'Black Widow' suicide bombers were released today as Vladimir Putin vowed to 'scrape out the attackers from the bottom of the sewers'.

As Russia held a day of mourning for the 39 people killed in the underground terror attack, the country's prime minister vowed vengeance on those who had helped mount the attack.

The police and security services now believe there are in a desperate race against time to find the gang with fears they could be plotting another outrage.

It was suggested today that some 21 more 'widows' are at large following reports that the women were part of a 30-strong band of suicide bombers trained at a Muslim school in Turkey. Nine have already perished in earlier attacks, Russian media said.

The dead women in Monday's attack are both believed to be aged between 18 and 25 and to have carried the explosives - packed with nails and metal fragments to maximise death and destruction - in shahid belts or handbags.

According to police who have viewed CCTV which has not yet been released, one was said to be mentally retarded.

A source close to the investigators said that the women suicide bombers travelled to Moscow early on Monday by coach from a unnamed Caucasus town, prompting the belief that the attack was by militants from volatile Chechnya. .

The women were accompanied by a tall man with Caucasus appearance, dressed in dark blue coat with white marks. He had five days growth of beard. Both women were identified by the driver of the coach.

'One was dressed in black trousers, another in black skirt, black tights and spangled black shoes,' said the Kommersant newspaper. Their appearance indicated they were from the Caucasus region.

The newspaper said the women had been taught by an Islamic militant who had himself being killed last month in an operation by the FSB, which replaced the KGB. 'Around 30 of them were taught in Madrasah (Muslim school) in Turkey and then came back to perform their tasks,' said Kommersant.

'Nine of them have already blown themselves up, the others are being checked now.'
'She heard that many women had been stopped but nothing was found so far. At the moment of the first explosion she was still at the police room in the metro when she saw a police boss rushed in with an angry face.

'He shouted to his officers - "how did you dare to miss them? You had all the information"?'

The newspaper said Moscow police were refusing to confirm the claim but 'several sources told us that at least three secret messages were received.'

Yesterday, a leading Kremlin minister added to the swirl of confusion by hinting that al-Qa'eda may have been behind the attacks.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov hinted at al-Qaeda's hand behind the attack. 'We all know very well that clandestine terrorists are very active on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,' he said.

'We know that several attacks have been prepared there, to be carried out not only in Afghanistan, but also in other countries. Sometimes, these journeys go as far as the Caucasus.'

Some 33 people have now been identified of the 39 dead. Among them were best friends Dasha Antonova and Valya Egiazaryan, both 17, died in the blast on their way to college. "They have been friends since their first year at school," said Valya's mother.

"We came here at night, and Valya is now in morgue Number 6 now. We can come to pick up her body on Thursday. We want to bury it as far away from Moscow as possible."

Black Widows are close female relatives and clan members of Chechen warriors slain by the Russians in the two bloody wars to have blighted the Caucasus region since the collapse of Communism two decades ago.
Dear sir, poor sir, brave sir: You are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe. You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will. You are the only one who has to figure out what to do next--and why. Everybody else is a robot, a machine.