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CNN Today

Moscow Bomb Blast Kills 7, Injures Dozens

Aired August 8, 2000 - 2:16 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Officials in Moscow investigate a bomb explosion that killed at least seven people. The explosion happened during the evening rush hour in a pedestrian tunnel near the city center. So far, no claim of responsibility, but even before the smoke had cleared, several Russian officials were pointing fingers at Chechen rebels.

From Moscow, CNN's Steve Harrigan with the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The explosion ripped through an underground passageway in the very heart of Moscow right in the middle of the evening rush hour. The passageway is used by commuters going to and from the trains. Dozens were caught in the blast. More than 40 were wounded. Smoke poured from the tunnel entrances.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The smoke was like gray gunpowder. All the windows blew out and a lot of salesmen were injured. There were a lot of people. There was a lot of screaming and crying.

HARRIGAN: No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion, but the mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, called it a terrorist act and implied that Chechens were behind it.

Russia has been fighting a war in the breakaway Republic of Chechnya for almost a year. In recent days, rebel fighters have warned of terrorist actions to mark the anniversary of a rebel victory in 1996.

Shortly after the explosion, federal security agents found a second explosive device in the vicinity and diffused it with a robot. Pushkin Square, where the blast occurred, is on one of the main shopping streets in Moscow, just a short walk from the Kremlin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIGAN: Lou, the number of wounded is continuing to rise. Right now, it stands at 53, many of those wounded in critical condition. Also, we're learning more about the nature of this explosive device. According to Russian security agents, it was three pounds of TNT in what may have been a briefcase. And, finally, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, said that the entire nation was shocked by the explosion and also that he personally would supervise the investigation.

I'm Steve Harrigan, CNN, reporting live from Moscow.

WATERS: And, Steve, is there any hard evidence that would prompt the mayor to pin this on Chechen rebels?

HARRIGAN: There's no hard evidence yet, Lou, but there are some factors pointing to that conclusion. In recent days, Chechen rebels have warned about possible terrorist attacks directed against Russia. As you know, that war has been going on for about a year now. But we've heard from the Chechen president, Aslan Maskhadov. He continues to deny any Chechen involvement. So right now it's just pointing the finger. More details will come later -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Steve Harrigan in Moscow.

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