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Chechen President Spared Death

April 11, 1999

GROZNY, Russia (AP) _ Police safely detonated two bombs Saturday that officials said were part of a plot to kill the president of Chechnya.

One of the bombs was found near a square in Stariy Atagy, where President Aslan Maskhadov gave a speech to thousands of people only hours later. The second bomb was found on a road between Stariy Atagy and Chechnya’s capital of Grozny, according to the Interfax news agency.

Presidential spokesman Mairbek Vachagayev said the bombs were part of a plan to kill Maskhadov. If so, it would have been the second attempt on Maskhadov’s life since March.

Maskhadov was a leading rebel commander during Chechnya’s 1994-96 war of secession from Russia, and won a landslide election victory in January 1997. He now faces severe opposition from several warlords who have accused him of being too friendly with Moscow.

Despite the discovery of the bombs, Maskhadov delivered a 30-minute speech at a rally in Stariy Atagy, where 4,000 city administration officials, Muslim leaders and armed vigilante units declared their loyalty to him. An estimated 10,000 other supporters also turned out at the event.

``We are going through hard times now. The enemy is within us but it is invisible. We are one nation, we have one religion but there is no accord between us,″ he said.

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