Jul 22, 2010
MOSCOW – Militants burst into a hydroelectric plant in Russia’s volatile Caucasus region yesterday in a brazen dawn attack, killing two people and setting the facility ablaze with a string of blasts.
The unknown attackers also bound two plant employees with duct tape before laying mines in the turbine room.
The explosions set off a blaze in the engine room of the station, which is tucked away in a forest in the unrest-hit Kabardino-Balkaria region.
The blasts shut down the plant.
RusHydro, the state-run power group that runs the plant, called the blasts a “terror attack”.
White smoke billowed from the plant and masked security officials were seen outside its premises, according to footage aired on national television.
A regional policeman said “the assailants or their accomplices” briefly attacked a local police building in the town of Baksan, possibly to deflect attention from the later attack.
The authorities are battling a Muslim insurgency in the Caucasus, where Moscow fought two bloody wars against Chechen separatists in the 90s. Militants there have long pledged to destroy key infrastructure sites.
FSB security service chief Alexander Bortnikov told President Dmitry Medvedev that steps had been taken to “increase the protection of strategic sites” after the attack, the Kremlin said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urgently convened officials for a meeting, his spokesman said.
Kabardino-Balkaria is part of the Caucasus but has until now seen less of the unrest that characterises the simmering guerilla conflict between Russian forces and Islamist rebels in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. AFP