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Medvedev demands anti-terror laws after attacks

30 marca, 2010

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered new laws to combat militant attacks as Moscow held a day of mourning Tuesday for the 39 people killed in a pair of underground suicide bombings.

Grieving Muscovites were adding to heaps of flowers and placed photographs of the dead under memorial plaques at the stations where the bombers struck Monday morning during the early commuter rush.

"We need to focus our attention on certain aspects of improving legislation aimed at preventing terrorist acts," a grim-faced Medvedev said in televised remarks.

Medvedev urged steps to make law-enforcement agencies work more efficiently, to increase the safety of transport systems and public places and to improve the implementation of Russia\'s anti-terrorism statutes.

The FSB security service has said the attacks on two metro stations in central Moscow were carried out by two women suicide bombers with links to Islamist insurgent groups in Russia\'s volatile North Caucasus. Related article: Tears and rage as bombers strike heart of Russia

As Russia mourned the victims of Moscow\'s worst attacks in six years, Orthodox believers prayed and lit candles during a vigil at Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the capital\'s largest church,

Flags at government buildings flew at half mast and television channels cancelled entertainment programmes.

Police were searching for two women seen with the bombers as well as a possible male accomplice, after identifying them and the bombers through surveillance footage, Russian media reported, citing security sources.

They said photographs of the three accomplices taken from the surveillance cameras had been distributed to police.

The Life.ru news website published grainy photographs of what it said were the severed heads of the two bombers. Related article: \'Black Widows\' snare Russia in new web of fear

Officials said the death toll rose to 39, not including the two bombers, after a woman died in hospital overnight.

The emergency situations ministry said 83 people had been wounded in the attacks, including an Israeli, a Filipino and two Malaysians.

Additional security officers, some with police dogs, were seen in and around Moscow metro stations on Tuesday morning.

Russia\'s state railroad firm company RZD said it had stepped up security and instructed staff to be more watchful, while state hydro-electric operator RusHydro said it raised security at dams.

Senior officials including Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of the troubled North Caucasus region of Chechnya, joined in the call for a crackdown on extremists. Related article: West pledges help after \'hateful\' Moscow attacks

Terrorists must be hunted down and found in their lairs, they must be poisoned like rats, they must be crushed and destroyed," Kadyrov wrote in the Izvestia newspaper.

Some observers criticised the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for failing to prevent the bombings.

"Reality has shattered the illusion of security in everyday life," the daily newspaper Vedomosti wrote in an editorial.

"In recent years, the authorities and state television have been singing a lullaby to Russians with the thought that terrorism is localised in the North Caucasus and does not threaten ordinary people."

Western leaders condemned the attacks and sent messages of solidarity to Russia, which has often been criticised in the West for using brutal counter-insurgency tactics in the North Caucasus.

US President Barack Obama called Medvedev and pledged Washington would "help bring to justice those who undertook this attack."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the "Caucasus Emirate" group led by Chechen Islamist chief Doku Umarov, said to be behind a November train bombing that killed 28 people, had recently threatened to attack Moscow.

Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region of the North Caucasus that was the site of two bloody separatist wars after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, has seen rising violence in recent months.