In a conversation with FSB officers the man reported that the first terrorist attack was to take place on 6 February in the Russian capital, ''and some two or three days later a terrorist act will hit a marketplace in the Stavropol Region''.
The Balkarian claimed that he had been ''recruited by special services in Abkhazia'', Georgia’s breakaway region, a month ago. In the course of that month he received ''training'', whereupon he was sent to Pankisi Gorge, a mountainous region in Georgia widely believed to be a haven for Chechen rebels.
According to the minister, the man gave the names of the Chechen rebels he met there to FSB officers, claiming they were the ones who would perpetrate the attack in Moscow. It remains unclear why Russian special services failed to respond to that information promptly, if indeed they did, but after the explosion tore through the Moscow subway on Friday all Stavropol’s marketplaces were immediately closed.
It could be that the actions of the informant disrupted the terrorists’ plans in Stavropol and saved the region from a repetition of the Moscow tragedy which, in the opinion of city mayor Yuri Luzhkov, has claimed as many as 50 lives.
Talking live on TV Centre television on Tuesday Luzhkov said that so far 38 victims of the metro blast had been identified. But, said Luzhkov, the toll could rise after body fragments are identified. ''After the procedure of identification is completed the number of victims of the blast could be some 50,'' the mayor said, adding that 101 people injured in the attack were still in hospital; 20 of them are in a grave condition.
''There is no use concealing anything and all the figures with regards to those killed and injured resulting from the act of terrorism are being communicated to the public,'' Luzhkov said. On Tuesday the official death toll in the Moscow tragedy reached 40 after another victim died in hospital.
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