In Russia, an unidentified caller has claimed an armed Islamic group from the southern republic of Dagestan was behind the two recent bomb explosions in Moscow, in which more than 200 people were killed. The claim was made, as the Taoiseach continued his official visit to Moscow, where he promised that Ireland would co-operate with Russia, in the fight against terrorism.

Speaking after an hour-long meeting with Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, the Taoiseach said he had promised full Irish co-operation with the Russian Government in the fight against terrorism. The two Prime Ministers signed agreements on combating drug trafficking and organised crime. Mr Putin said that it was clear that Ireland had experience in combating terrorism and that experts from the two countries would have much to discuss.

Mr Ahern said that it was sad and ironic that they should be signing the agreements at a time when the Russian federation has been hit by a number of bomb attacks. He promised a fast and comprehensive exchange of information about terrorist tactics. The Taoiseach’s program continued this afternoon with the laying of a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier and a visit to the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, as Russian security forces continue to hunt for the bombers behind the Moscow explosions, the Kremlin has blamed Islamic fundamentalists in Chechnya and Dagestan for the attacks. Moscow has also warned of a wave of unrest across several republics, along the fringes of the former Soviet Union.