The head of Russia’s FSB state security service, Nikolai Patrushev, said November 7 that terrorists were plotting to blow up dams, waterways, and hydroelectric stations in the south of the country.
Russia is fighting an insurgency in Chechnya and other parts of its mainly Muslim North Caucasus region. The Kremlin says the insurgents are part of an international Islamist militant network linked to Al Qaeda and similar groups.
“The NAC (National Anti-Terrorism Committee) has information that terrorist leaders intend to launch acts of sabotage against water infrastructure installations,” Patrushev told a meeting of the top anti-terrorist body he chairs.
In remarks broadcast on Russian television, he said terrorists could target huge installations in the Rostov and Saratov region on the Volga River and in the southern province of Dagestan.
He did not say whether his information pointed to any specific plans or who the potential saboteurs might be.
“If there is an attack on one of the … installations there may be catastrophic consequences, which may paralyze activity in an entire region, kill many people, and cause serious economic losses,” Patrushev said.
He said recent checks on water infrastructure showed it lacked the necessary protection from terrorist attacks and urged authorities and managers to remedy that.
The insurgency in southern Russia has been most violent in Chechnya, scene of a decade-long separatist war, but has also spilled over into surrounding regions.
The insurgents have not carried out a major attack on a civilian target since the 2004 seizure of a school in Beslan, southern Russia. More than 300 people, half of them children, died in that attack.