57th Victory Day celebrations darkened by blasts and casualties

At least 20 killed and 100 wounded during the Victory day parade in Dagestan

A remote-controlled mine exploded in the central square of a Kaspiisk (Dagestan), southern Russian town near Chechnya today morning, at least 20 people were killed and about 100 were wounded during celebrations marking the Allied victory over the Nazis. “The mine was planted beside the main street in the town of Kaspiisk, - said Magomed Magomedov, head of the Dagestan state council, AP reports.

Interfax news agency reported that the explosive device was concealed in bushes on the main street of the town, about 300 metres from the square where the Victory Day parade was taking place.

The victims included children, veterans and musicians in a military band who were marching down the street toward a cemetery to lay wreaths at the town's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The center of town was cordoned off and swarming with security agents, police and rescue workers. NTV television canal reported that the city's hospital was already overflowing with injured.

As Reuters noted, the deaths came just moments after President Vladimir Putin, addressing the main Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square, said terrorism was the new common threat facing the world, as Nazism had been almost 60 years ago. "Only by uniting the effort of the people and the state can we confront these threats," said Russian president.

"That was well proven by the anti-Hitler coalition. The coalition countries defeated the enemy. And today, we are again uniting and finding allies against a common threat.

Reuters reported, Dagestan sees frequent small-scale bombings and other unrest, often spillover violence from the war in the adjacent breakaway province of Chechnya.

In November 1996, a huge bomb killed 68 people in Kaspiisk when it tore through an apartment building housing Russian border guards. The perpetrators were never found, but many blamed Chechen rebels. Kaspiisk, north of the Russian border with Azerbaijan, is home to a large number of Russian border guards.

On April 28, seven people died in a bomb attack on a market in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia which also borders Chechnya. Last November, five people died in an explosion in the same city. In July 2000, another five people were killed in two blasts in provinces bordering Chechnya, Gazeta.ru reports.

Thursday's blast came while the country was in a buoyant, patriotic mood thanks to parades and celebrations nationwide to mark Victory Day, one of Russia's biggest holidays. Thousands of troops marched across Red Square past President Vladimir Putin and aging World War II veterans on Thursday, while triumphant music and films filled the airwaves and streets were blanketed in building-size banners. About 27 million Soviet people were killed in the war, it was the largest loss of any country.

Photo NTV.ru

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