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Cohen Offers Russia U.S. Help to Combat Terrorism

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

MOSCOW, Sept. 15, 1999 – ┬áHours after a bomb blast destroyed an eight-story apartment complex here Sept. 13, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen publicly condemned the attack and offered U.S. help.

The apartment complex in southern Moscow was home to 60 families. Several hours after the blast, rescue workers had pulled one survivor from the rubble and more than 50 bodies.

The blast was the latest in a wave of bombings in Russia in the past month, according to local news reports. Five days earlier, 92 people died when a bomb destroyed another apartment complex here. Bombings also occurred at a shopping mall and in Dagestan, a town in southern Russia where a building housing military officer families was flattened.

"There can be no justification for any group taking any action against innocent civilians," Cohen said of the latest attack. "We intend to cooperate in whatever fashion we can to work with the Russian people." The secretary was in Moscow to meet with Russian officials on a variety of defense matters.

"I want to express my deepest sympathies to the victims of terrorism both in Moscow and in Dagestan. Today is a day of mourning here in Russia, and I join in that mourning," Cohen told his hosts. He called the bombing "a cowardly, callous act of terrorism that killed scores of people, including many children."

Without giving details, Cohen pledged the United States would help Russia combat terrorism. "We will share information," he said. "We will talk about ways we can share technology. We will ask our experts to meet to develop ways we can help in this joint effort to combat terrorism which is a scourge against mankind."

Russian defense leader Igor Sergeyev acknowledged the need to share information. "We believe that now we need to integrate our records to combat terrorism," he said through an interpreter. "In the past, terrorists were just carrying out several attacks. Now, they are waging a terrorist war against us -- terrorist operations. These are new realities and we have to oppose them with new steps on our part."

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