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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bomb Discovered in Lyubertsy Building

A powerful makeshift bomb discovered in a Moscow region apartment Friday failed to detonate after a watch timer malfunctioned, Russian media reported Monday.

A cleaning lady in Lyubertsy, just east of Moscow, discovered the explosive device, made up of 18 rocket-propelled grenades attached to a detonator, Kommersant newspaper reported.

The bomb was packed into a large suitcase at 52 Ulitsa Kirova, apartment 84, Kommersant reported.

Local police and the Federal Security Service declined to comment on the incident Monday, confirming only that a criminal case had been initiated on charges of terrorism.

The men who rented the apartment where the bomb was found were Chechens who had lived there for only a few days and moved out last week, Gazeta reported, citing residents of the building.

A cleaner discovered the suitcase Friday afternoon after the men moved out, Kommersant reported. According to the attached timer, the bomb inside was set to go off at 11:00 a.m., the paper said.

The cleaner promptly notified the police, who arrived at the scene with FSB bomb disposal experts and began evacuating residents from the building.

The bomb failed to explode due to a faulty Casio watch timer, the report said, citing FSB and police sources.

The residents were able to return to their apartments only later that evening.

Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev has claimed responsibility for the bomb attempt, and FSB officers believe Basayev may have sent the two men presumed to have left the bomb, Kommersant reported.

A series of detonations have hit gas pipelines and power lines near Moscow in recent weeks. Last Monday, explosive devices toppled three towers supporting high-voltage power lines about 2 kilometers south of Moscow.

Gas pipe explosions have also occurred in the Moscow region towns of Chekhov, Podolsk, Bronnitsy and Ramensky.

Chechen rebel groups have claimed responsibility for previous bombings on the web site, though there was no mention of the Lyubertsy bombing attempt on the site as of Monday evening.

In a March 9 posting on the web site, a Chechen rebel group calling itself Shamil Basayev's Riyadus-Salikhin martyrs' brigade said it was preparing a series of attacks on pipelines, electrical substations and other infrastructure targets in the Moscow area.

The same group also claimed responsibility for the Feb. 6 Moscow metro bombing, which killed at least 40 people.

FSB and police sources cited by Kommersant said that the explosives found in Lyubertsy were likely part of an arsenal intended for sabotaging gas and power facilities, rather than for blowing up the apartment building. But with police closing in, the rebels decided to shape them into one large bomb before leaving, Kommersant reported.