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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutors Arrest a Suspect in Deadly Grozny Bombing

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia -- The Prosecutor General's Office has arrested a suspected organizer of the December truck bombing that destroyed the headquarters of the Moscow-backed government in Chechnya and killed at least 70 people, officials said Friday.

Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky said the man, who was detained Wednesday, was suspected of being "directly involved in the organization of this crime in Grozny," Itar-Tass reported.

Preliminary indications are that the suspect, whose name was not released, was a member of a group led by rebel field commander Shamil Basayev, Fridinsky said. But he said Basayev's involvement in the bombing had not been proven.

Suicide bombers in two trucks attacked the building in Grozny on Dec. 27, setting off devastating explosions that killed at least 70 people and wounded scores of others.

Fridinsky said three Chechnya residents detained earlier had been charged. He did not say what the charge was, but indicated it was complicity in the attack, saying they had at some point driven the trucks used in the attack to Grozny, where they had also found a place to store the trucks and living quarters for the attackers.

The bombing came three months before a planned March 23 referendum on a constitution for Chechnya. Officials have accused rebels of planning to thwart the vote. Two polling stations for the referendum have been destroyed by assailants, Interfax reported Sunday. The report did not say when the destruction took place but said both polling stations were in the Shali district. Polling stations are now being guarded around-the-clock, Interfax reported.

Meanwhile, Unified Energy Systems announced Saturday that it had started repairs on a power line from Vladikavkaz to Grozny. More than 7,000 kilometers of transmission lines have been destroyed in the Chechen conflict, the report said.