Russia crashes: Traces of explosives found

Russia crashes: Traces of explosives found

Friday, August 27, 2004 Posted: 7:04 AM EDT (1104 GMT)

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) — Traces of explosives have been found in the wreckage of one of the two Russian passenger jets which crashed Tuesday, killing 89 people aboard, Russia’s top intelligence agency says.

The two planes crashed within minutes of each other Tuesday night after departing Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, killing all aboard.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) said the explosive traces were found in the wreckage of the Siberia Airlines Tupelov 154 — the second plane that crashed.

A hijack alert on the aircraft had been activated before it crashed, killing all 46 on board, Siberia Airlines said on its Web site. The aircraft was bound for the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The FSB also said it had found data at the Siberia Airlines crash site that could enable them to identify suspects involved in the attack.

The FSB confirmed that a Chechen woman was on board the Siberia Airlines flight, and no friends or relatives had come forward. Her remains have not been found.

She is the only passenger on the flight that has not been inquired after.

According to Russian media reports quoting security sources and Chechnya’s interior minister, a Chechen woman also boarded the first plane that crashed, a Volga-Avia Express Tupolev 134.

The Grozny resident, born in 1977, was the last passenger to board the Tu-134 and had purchased her ticket an hour before the flight departed.

No friends or relatives have inquired about her remains, which have also not been located, according to the media reports. She is also the only passenger on that flight that no one has claimed.

Through a spokesman, Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov has denied any involvement in the plane crashes.

The crashes took place ahead of a regional election in the rebellious southern territory of Chechnya, where Russian troops have battled separatist guerrillas for the past five years.

Chechen separatists have been blamed for numerous bombings and other attacks in Russia in recent years, including the seizure of hundreds of hostages at a Moscow theater that ended with more than 100 hostages dead.

Russian media report the tentative analysis of the Siberia Airlines wreckage shows the presence of hexogen, an element used by Chechens in past attacks.

The Tu-134 was en route to Volgograd when disappeared from radar at 10:56 p.m. (2:56 p.m. ET) Tuesday. Its wreckage was found about 100 miles (160 km) south of Moscow near Tula, according to Russia’s Emergency Ministry.

The Siberia Airlines plane was about 100 miles (160 km) from Rostov-on-Don when it dropped off radar screens at 10:59 p.m., the state news agency Novosti reported. Russian officials said the crash site spread over a 25 mile (40 km) radius.

The two crash sites were about 450 miles (725 km) apart.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had been vacation in Sochi when the planes crashed. He returned to Moscow on Wednesday.

— CNN Correspondent Paula Hancocks and Producer Max Tkachenko in Moscow contributed to this report

Again, no surprises here to me. On a side note there is word that Osama and company are interested in recruiting Chechens because they do not look like Middle Easterners and can blonde and blue-eyed.

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