MAKHACHKALA, Russia – A Chechen militant claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks on the Moscow subway in an Internet message posted Wednesday, hours after two more suicide bombers struck southern Russia in brazen defiance of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Doku Umarov, who leads Islamic militants in Chechnya and other regions in Russia’s North Caucasus, said in a video posted on a pro-rebel Web site that Monday’s twin suicide attacks were revenge for the killing of civilians by Russian security forces.
Umarov’s statement appeared after Putin vowed to “drag out of the sewer” the terrorists who plotted the subway bombings, which killed 39 people and wounded scores of commuters during the morning rush hour.
Wednesday’s suicide bombings killed 12 people in Dagestan, a volatile southern province east of Chechnya. Putin said they could have been planned by the same group behind the Moscow bombings.
“I don’t rule out that this is one and the same gang,” he said at a televised Cabinet meeting. President Dmitry Medvedev later called the attacks “links of the same chain.”
The suicide bombings in Moscow were the first in the capital in six years and served as a wake-up call for many Russians, who had come to feel insulated from the violence raging in the country’s predominantly Muslim southern corner.
Umarov blamed ordinary Russians for turning a blind eye to the killing of civilians in the Caucasus by security forces and warned of more attacks.
“I promise you that the war will come to your streets and you will feel it in your lives, feel it on your own skin,” Umarov, dressed in fatigues, said in a video posted on kavkazcenter.com, a Web site that rebels use to air their statements.
There was no way to substantiate Umarov’s claim, and officials at Russian law enforcement agencies refused to comment on Umarov’s claim. The Russian security chief has previously said the subway bombings were carried out by militants from the Caucasus.
Umarov had previously warned that “if Russians think that the war is happening only on television, somewhere far away in the Caucasus where it can’t reach them, then we are going to show them that this war will return to their homes.”
The 45-year-old Umarov fought Russian forces in both separatist wars in Chechnya over the last 15 years. He took over the leadership of the rebel movement in 2006 following the killing by Russian forces of Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev.
Moscow police have been on high alert since the subway attacks, increasing roadblocks on highways into the city.