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Blast in Russian town kills 30

MOSCOW MAY 9. Thirty persons were killed and close to 140 wounded when a powerful bomb exploded during Victory Day celebrations in the town of Kaspiisk in southern Russia on Thursday. The blast came minutes before the main military parade began in Moscow to mark the 57th anniversary of victory in the war against Nazi Germany. The remote-controlled explosive device, equivalent to between three to four kg of TNT, was placed in bushes on the side of the town's main street and went off as hundreds of local residents headed for the Second World War cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony. Twelve children and 16 military personnel were among those killed when the blast ripped through a bus carrying a military band and hit demonstrators.

Russian authorities qualified the explosion as a terrorist attack and the President, Vladimir Putin, likened its perpetrators to Nazi war criminals. ``We have every right to treat them (the bombers) as Nazis, whose sole aim is to sow death and fear,'' Mr. Putin said during a Kremlin reception for Second World War veterans. Addressing the military parade earlier on Thursday he called for a global coalition to defeat terrorism which is threatening the world today as Nazism had threatened it almost 60 years ago. ``The anti-Hitler coalition countries defeated the enemy. And today, we are again uniting and finding allies against a common threat. Its name is terrorism,'' the Russian leader said.

Thursday's bomb attack is the worst in Russia since a series of explosions destroyed several buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities in 1999, killing over 300. Russian authorities blamed the blasts on Chechen rebels but are yet to detain the culprits.

Chechen militants are prime suspects in the latest blast as well. Kaspiisk is situated in Dagestan, which borders Chechnya and was the target of a massive incursion by Chechen separatists in 1999. The Russian army beat back the rebels and has since been trying to wipe them out in Chechnya itself.

The first attempt to bring breakaway Chechnya into Russia's fold collapsed in 1996 after two years of bloody war in which tens of thousands died.

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