Chechnya president unhurt in bombing of his motorcade

One presidential guard is killed, 3 others hurt in attack in Grozny


MOSCOW - A remotely detonated bomb struck the motorcade of Chechnya's acting president yesterday in the capital of Grozny, killing a presidential guard and demonstrating again the resilience and skill of the republic's separatist militants.

The president, Sergei Abramov, narrowly escaped injury, although three other members of his entourage were injured, according to Ruslan Alkhanov, commander of a special police task force.

Russian news agencies reported that Abramov had been touring the ruined city with managers of a construction company, reviewing sites for potential reconstruction. The bomb detonated just after his vehicle passed by.

"It was large," Alkhanov said in a telephone interview. "Enough to badly damage an armored car."

The carefully timed attack, occurring two months after Abramov's predecessor was assassinated in a bomb blast while watching a public ceremony, raised further questions about Moscow's official position that the long-simmering war in Chechnya is under control.

The bomb exploded hours after the end of an overnight battle in the mountain village of Avtury, where Chechen special services soldiers loyal to the Kremlin fought with militants in a series of extended skirmishes.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the son of the late president and commander of a small army that supports the Russian-backed government, said in an appearance on the NTV television network that six of his fighters had been killed and that at least seven militants had died.

The war in Chechnya, now in its fifth year, has shown signs of slipping from Moscow's control, and perhaps spreading to other regions in the Caucasus.

Last month, the fighting briefly flared in the neighboring Russian republic of Ingushetia, where nearly 100 people were killed when Chechen and Ingush militants overran the authorities and controlled several roads and cities for a night.

The militants withdrew. No one seems to be certain where.

Late last week, a militant group calling itself the Military Council Majlis Al-Shura of Ingushetia declared a jihad in Ingushetia against Russia and also against local people who cooperate with the Russian government.

Both Chechnya and Ingushetia are overwhelmingly Muslim.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack against the president yesterday.

After a bomb killed the elected president, Akhmad Kadyrov, a prominent Chechen militant leader, Shamil Basayev, said he had coordinated the assassination.

In a videotape delivered earlier this month to Al-Jazeera, the satellite television station in Qatar, Basayev vowed more attacks.

A special presidential election is planned in Chechnya for Aug. 29. Abramov, who appeared on television last night to demonstrate he had survived the assassination attempt, has not declared an intention to run.

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