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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tbilisi Extradites 1999 Bombing Suspect

APGeorgian police searching a car during an anti-crime sweep of Tbilisi on Saturday that led to several Chechens being detained.
TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia has extradited to Russia a man accused by Moscow of involvement in the 1999 apartment house bombings in Moscow and the southern town of Volgodonsk.

NTV television showed Yusuf Krymshamkhalov, his eyes covered, being led in handcuffs off a plane Saturday.

Channel One said Krymshamkhalov was one of the attacks' main organizers, while Itar-Tass said he was a senior aide to Achimez Gochiyayev, the man who Russia says was the mastermind behind the bombings. Krymshamkhalov, who was taken to Lefortovo prison, was arrested in the Pankisi Gorge.

His extradition was welcomed in Moscow, which has accused Georgia of dragging its feet on the extradition of Chechen rebels.

On Friday, Georgian forces killed five militants also suspected of links to the apartment blasts in a clash near the Azeri border. "As a result of this operation, we destroyed a terrorist gang that included prominent terrorists sought by Interpol," Georgian Security Ministry spokesman Nika Laliashvili said.

He said the gang may have been responsible for kidnapping Peter Shaw, a Briton held captive in Georgia for five months and later escaped.

Meanwhile, Georgian police on Saturday flooded the streets of Tbilisi, conducting a massive anti-crime operation that resulted in 12 arrests, mostly of foreign citizens. Entire families were taken to police stations for passport checks. Roadblocks were set up, cars stopped and their drivers questioned.

While several Chechens were among those detained, Interior Ministry spokesman Paata Gomelauri insisted that the operation was "against criminals and wasn't focused on nationality."

Among those detained was Khizri Aldamov, leader of the organization Chechen Diaspora in Georgia. He suffered heart trouble at the police station and was taken to a hospital, Georgian officials said.

In addition to Chechens, nationals of Pakistan and some African countries were also arrested, as were Georgians.

 U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow on Friday joined a growing chorus of disapproval over the closure of the Iman refugee camp near the Ingush village of Aki-Yurt earlier in the week. "We are very much concerned by the situation in Ingushetia and UN representatives' reports that some of the refugees were returning to Chechnya involuntarily," Vershbow said.

He said he was concerned about conditions in Chechnya and whether it was safe enough for the refugees to return.

Vershbow met Friday with Stanislav Ilyasov, the federal minister in charge of reconstruction in Chechnya, the U.S. Embassy said.

 Usman Masayev, Chechnya's first deputy administration head, escaped unharmed after his car was ambushed by gunmen firing submachine guns and grenades, an official in the Chechen administration said Sunday.

Masayev was traveling Saturday in the town of Mairtup in the Kurchaloi region, 30 kilometers east of Grozny, when three unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car, the official said.

Masayev's driver and and bodyguard were wounded, but Masayev escaped unharmed, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. One of the attackers was killed by the bodyguard and the other two escaped, he said.

(AP, Reuters)