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Car Bomb Outside Police Station in Grozny Kills at Least 10 Chechens

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From Times Wire Services

A car bomb exploded Thursday outside a Grozny police station where Chechens were waiting to get identity documents, killing at least 10 people in the bloodiest attack in Chechnya in months.

The attack appeared to target Chechens who are cooperating with Russian authorities in building a pro-Moscow civilian administration in the rebel region, officials said.

“It seems not everyone is pleased that the Chechen republic is getting its own police force and that people are turning to it for help and documents,” said Gen. Nikolai Getman, deputy commander of Russian forces in Chechnya.

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Government spokesmen said 10 people were killed and 16 injured in the attack in Chechnya’s capital, while Russia’s RTR government television and NTV private television reported 15 had died. Hospital officials in Grozny said they had received 20 injured, but it wasn’t clear how many of those had died.

The dead included several members of the pro-Russian Chechen police force and several prosecutors, but most of the wounded were civilians, officials said.

One of the wounded, Zurab Nasayev, said he was in line to get his passport when the bomb went off. “I looked around and there were people lying everywhere,” Nasayev told Russian television from a hospital cot, his head and left arm swathed in bloody bandages.

A spokesman for Russian military headquarters in Mozdok, in the neighboring republic of North Ossetia, said the explosion appeared to have been set off by remote control when a car carrying prosecutors arrived at the station.

The explosion was equivalent to 22 pounds of TNT, officials said.

Zara Matuyeva, who was shopping at a market about 1,300 feet from the blast, said she saw at least 20 bodies on the street surrounded by pools of blood. Windows were shattered for blocks around.

“I thought an artillery shell hit the building,” police officer Suleiman Gemayev said. “I ran out, and one of our detectives was lying there bleeding.”

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Troops cordoned off the neighborhood, which was swarming with ambulances and firetrucks. Police launched a sweep, checking people’s identity documents and searching cars. Several suspects were detained, officials said.

In recent months, Chechen rebels have stepped up ambushes and bomb attacks against federal forces and Chechen officials cooperating with the Russian government. Russian positions in both Grozny and Gudermes, the seat of the pro-Russian Chechen administration, have been heavily targeted.

Chechnya won de facto independence in a 1994-96 war. Russian troops rolled back in a year ago, after rebels raided the Russian region of Dagestan and after a series of apartment bombings in Moscow and southern Russia that killed about 300 people.

Russia now formally controls the whole territory of the separatist province. But Russian soldiers and policemen die every week in rebel attacks and mine explosions.

The latest incident appeared to be one of the worst since the spring, when rebels attacked several Russian military convoys, killing scores of people.

A Chechen rebel spokesman in London could not be reached for comment.

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