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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Chechens Sentenced In Bombing

Two Chechen women were sentenced Monday to 16 and 19 years in a maximum-security prison for planting a bomb that destroyed a train station in southern Russia in April 1997, killing two people and injuring 20.

Fatima Taymaskhanova and Aiset Dadasheva had originally confessed to bombing the Pyatigorsk railway station, authorities have said.

But the women later claimed that the testimony was made under physical and psychological pressure.

"I haven't committed that bombing, and all the confessions I have given were under threats and torture,'' Taymaskhanova told the court Monday, Interfax reported.

The women were convicted of terrorism, Interfax said.

They have been on trial since last June in the Stavropol regional court in southern Russia.

The verdict said that the sentence was lowered from the 25 years demanded by prosecutors for each woman because they both have small children, Interfax reported.

Taymaskhanova and Dadasheva are believed to be from Russia's separatist region of Chechnya. They are thought to be connected to a renegade Chechen field commander, Salman Raduyev, who had threatened attacks on Russian targets and is suspected of planning the bombing.

Chechnya's separatist leaders at the time denied any involvement in the Pyatigorsk blast or in another preceding it in the Russian town of Armavir.

But the mostly Moslem region has long been dogged by rampant lawlessness, which often spills over into adjacent regions of southern Russia.