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Russia works to identify 22 bodies in huge petrol station blast

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Russia works to identify 22 bodies in huge petrol station blast

 

Two days after the huge explosion at a petrol station in the southern Russian Republic of Dagestan killed 35 people, 22 bodies have yet to be identified, local authorities said on Wednesday.

Investigators believe the blast in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala was sparked by a fire in a car workshop opposite the petrol station, where fertilizer was also stored.

Two men have been questioned by investigators, one of whom confirmed the storage of the ammonium nitrate, the authorities said.

The State Investigation Committee is treating the accident as a violation of safety measures resulting in death.

Local media said 84 people were injured, some of them seriously.

The explosion in Makhachkala damaged around 400 houses in the surrounding area, according to Dagestan’s Head of Administration, Sergei Melikov.

Melikov said on Telegram that the clean up effort was under way.

Back in 2020, ammonium nitrate stored without safety precautions caused another massive explosion in the port of Beirut.

 

More than 200 people were killed and around 6,000 others injured, while large parts of the port and nearby residential areas were destroyed.

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3 teens arrested in Germany for allegedly plotting terror attack

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German authorities have arrested three teenagers aged 15 and 16 on suspicion of plotting a deadly Islamist terrorist attack in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, prosecutors said on Friday.

The state’s Central Office for the Prosecution of Terrorism (ZenTer NRW) sought an arrest warrant for the teenagers over the Easter holiday.

They were suspected of plotting a terrorist attack in accordance with the aims and ideology of (extremist militia organisation) Islamic State.

The detained suspects are a 15-year-old girl from Dusseldorf, a 16-year-old girl from the Märkischer Kreis district and a 15-year-old boy from the Soest district, located about 100 kilometres to the east of Dusseldorf.

A fourth suspect has reportedly been identified in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, and the local court there has issued an arrest warrant.

According to the investigators, the teenagers are accused of having agreed to commit murder and manslaughter.

This is in conjunction with the preparation of a serious act of violence endangering the state.

 

The presumption of innocence applied in all stages of the proceedings.

Security sources told newsmen that the young people had formed a chat group, but had not drawn up a concrete attack plan for a particular time and place.

However, sources said the cities of Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Cologne were discussed as targets, and attacks with knives and Molotov cocktails on people in churches or police officers in police stations had been considered.

The sources said authorities had also conducted searches as part of the investigation.

A machete and a dagger were seized in Dusseldorf, but no evidence of the construction of incendiary devices was discovered.

Sources said the father of the Dusseldorf suspect had already attracted attention from authorities in the past because he had allegedly collected donations for the Islamic State.

The investigators declined to reveal how the suspected terrorists were tracked down, but said that foreign intelligence agencies “did not play a role.”

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Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election

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Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

 

Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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