September 07, 2000 01:37am
16 Injured in Moscow Prostitute Grenade Attack
(MOSCOW) -- Sixteen people were injured early on Thursday by a grenade lobbed at a line of prostitutes standing alongside a Moscow street, police said.
A police spokeswoman said by telephone that the grenade exploded at 3:45 a.m. on Bolshaya Sukharevskaya street in central Moscow and injured the legs of 15 women and one man.
NTV commercial television reported that eight people remained hospitalized by mid-morning on Thursday, one in serious condition, The station also said police had detained five people who were being investigated for a possible role in the attack.
A detective investigating the case told NTV that the blast looked like a settling of accounts between rival criminal gangs rather than an act of terrorism.
A police spokesman said the grenade was not powerful and could have been homemade.
NTV quoted witnesses as saying a man whose looks suggested he came from Russia's turbulent Caucasus region had thrown the grenade. It said a manhunt for the suspect was under way.
Muscovites have lived in special fear of bomb blasts since a series of explosions a year ago killed nearly 300 people across Russia.
Authorities blamed the attacks on Chechen rebels. Partly in response to the bombings, President Vladimir Putin, who was prime minister at the time, sent troops into Chechnya to try to restore Russian rule in the separatist region.
The rebels have denied responsibility for the blasts.
Last month a bomb blast in an underpass at central Moscow's Pushkin Square killed 12 people and injured more than 100. Someofficials blamed Chechen rebels at first, but police later said it could have been gang violence.