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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

FSB Says 1999 Bombers Dead or Hiding

Several key suspects in the 1999 apartment bombings have been killed in Chechnya while others are hiding in Georgia's troubled Pankisi Gorge, a senior FSB official said Monday, on the third anniversary of the first of two blasts in Moscow.

"It was determined that they are hiding in the Pankisi Gorge, and Georgian authorities are well aware of this," Federal Security Service anti-terrorism chief Gennady Solovyov told Itar-Tass.

The Federal Security Service, or FSB, said the two attacks in Moscow -- on Ulitsa Guryanova on Sept. 8, 1999, which claimed 94 lives, and on Kashirskoye Shosse four days later, which killed 121 people -- were carried out by a group led by Achemez Gochiyayev, an Islamic fundamentalist from Karachayevo-Cherkessia. Gochiyayev is also suspected of organizing the Sept. 16, 1999, bombing of an apartment building in the southern city of Volgodonsk, which killed 18, said Ivan Mironov, head of the FSB's operations department.

The media have speculated the FSB might have been involved in the attacks, but no credible evidence has surfaced.

Mironov said three of Gochiyayev's accomplices were killed during the ongoing military campaign in Chechnya, including Denis Saitakov, who is accused of helping Gochiyayev rent basements in the Guryanova and Kashirskoye Shosse buildings, and Zaur Batchaev, who allegedly placed timers on the Moscow bombs, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported Monday.

Mironov said Gochiyayev and several of his men are currently holed up in Pankisi, RIA-Novosti reported Sunday. One of Gochiyayev's suspected accomplices, Adam Dekkushev, was detained after leaving Pankisi and extradited to Russia in July.

Georgian Foreign Minister Iraklii Menagarishvili denied Monday that Gochiyayev was hiding in Pankisi.

The FSB said Gochiyayev and his group were trained in camps once run in Chechnya by the warlord Khattab. The FSB said Khattab ordered the apartment bombings, while his aides Abu Umar and Abu Djafar trained and instructed the bombers. Khattab and Umar were killed in Chechnya in March 2002 and July 2001, respectively.

Solovyov said the FSB hoped to capture Gochiyayev and his accomplices and bring them to trial. Dekkushev, who is accused of making the explosives used in the blasts, is awaiting trial. The FSB earlier announced that it was holding two more suspects in the Moscow bombings, Taukan Frantsuzov and Ruslan Magayayev, but their alleged involvement remains unclear.

While no one has been tried in the Moscow and Volgodonsk blasts, six men were found guilty of plotting and staging a fourth blast, on Sept. 4, 1999, in Buinaksk, Dagestan. The blast killed 62 people. The six men were given prison terms ranging from three years to life.