Police in black bulletproof vests swarmed through subway stations, markets and other crowded places in Moscow today, forcing visitors to identify themselves in the aftermath of two explosions in five days that killed more than 210 people here.
Riot police manned checkpoints on all roads leading into and out of the city, checking identity papers and cargo. Across the Russian capital, soldiers searched apartment building basements and storerooms for explosives like those thought to have been used in the two apartment building blasts.
In one building in southwestern Moscow, police found a cache of nearly two tons of explosives and 70 yards of fuse, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushaylo said. The explosives were discovered Monday, and the building was evacuated, Interior Ministry officials said. Demolition experts later destroyed them at a military training ground.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin addressed a closed session of the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, which convened to discuss the bombings and heavy fighting between Russian forces and Islamic guerrillas in the Dagestan region of southern Russia.
Many officials have linked the two apartment building blasts, last Thursday and Monday, to the fighting in Dagestan, which borders the separatist region of Chechnya. Chechen guerrillas waged a two-year war for independence from Russia in 1994-96, and now many of the same rebels have crossed into Dagestan, where they say want to establish an independent Islamic state.
"It is time to recognize that terrorism has become Russia's national problem," Putin told the lawmakers, according to Russian news agencies. "It is obvious to us that both in Dagestan and in Moscow we are dealing not with independent fighters, but rather with well-trained international saboteurs."
Putin called for a "quarantine" around Chechnya to stop weapons and Islamic militants from passing into Dagestan. He also suggested applying "tough economic sanctions" against the territory.
Security forces combed Moscow for suspects in Monday's blast--the fourth deadly explosion in Russia attributed to terrorists in 10 days-- while rescue workers completed the search for bodies.
By this afternoon, the death toll from Monday's explosion had reached 118, including 12 children, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Ninety-three people were killed in last Thursday's blast.
Police said today that three people had been detained in connection with the blasts--two of whom owned companies with offices on the ground floor of one of the destroyed buildings. Police also released sketches and photographs of three other men suspected of involvement in the bombings, including one who reportedly had rented space in both buildings.