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Moscow blast victims mourned

A woman places a candle at the site of Saturday's twin suicide bomber attacks.
A woman places a candle at the site of Saturday's twin suicide bomber attacks.

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Two female suicide bombers kill and injure concertgoers in Moscow. CNN's Jill Dougherty reports by videophone. (July 5)
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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Security has been beefed up across the Russian capital after two female suicide bombers -- believed to have ties to Chechen rebels -- killed 15 people at a rock concert, Russian officials said. The bombers also died.

The victims were remembered at a memorial service Sunday, and President Vladimir Putin -- who postponed a trip to Uzbekistan and Malaysia in the wake of the blast -- issued a statement of condolences.

"A bloody and vile crime has been committed, a crime against civilians," he said. "Among those who have perished are young people who were only just beginning their adult life. The purpose of this terrorist act is obvious: to sow fear, suspicion and ethnic intolerance in our society.

"But we know that traitors to their own people and murderers have no future nor can they have any. All Russians, the entire country, are with you in these sorrowful tragic hours."

Russian Deputy Interior Minister Rashid Nurgalyev said investigators have "managed to establish a link between the two terrorists with the rebel formations in Chechnya."

Some 20,000 people were attending the fourth annual music festival, called "Krylya" (Wings), at Tushino air field north of Moscow.

Russian officials said both of the bombers had sought entrance to the concert, but were not allowed inside, and that the explosions took place at entrances outside the venue.

The first woman's explosives, which were tied to her body, detonated only partially, police said. Fifteen minutes later, at another entrance, the other woman detonated the explosives that were strapped to her body along with metal pieces, police said.

Authorities said that if the bombers had been able to enter the stadium, the casualty figures would have been far higher.

Police said a passport belonging to one of the women identified her as 20 years of age, with a Chechen name.

In a statement, President Bush said he "strongly condemns" the attack, and expressed his sympathies to the victims and their families.

"No cause justifies terrorism, and as long as innocents are threatened by terror, the fight against this evil will continue," Bush said. "The civilized nations of the world will prevail."

Investigators work at the site of the bomb blast.
Investigators work at the site of the bomb blast.

Police gathered forensic evidence at the scene, and Russian authorities opened a criminal case in the matter, charging terrorism.

A number of people at the concert were evacuated from the scene in buses. Initially, however, many in the stadium did not know there had been an attack and remained to watch the concert, which police said they allowed to continue after the blasts in an attempt to prevent mass panic among the crowd.

It was the latest in a series of suicide attacks that have taken place in Russia and its breakaway Republic of Chechnya.

Last month, a woman killed at least 17 people after throwing herself under a bus carrying members of Russia's military near Chechnya and detonating explosives.

In October, Chechen rebels targeted a Moscow theater, holding dozens hostage until Russian authorities released a mystery gas inside the building and then sent special troops to storm it. A total of 129 people died in the 57-hour siege, the vast majority from effects of the gas.

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