Russia claims to have ‘neutralized’ an Islamist cell in Crimea

The top official in Russia-annexed Crimea said on Wednesday the FSB security service had broken up what he described as a six-person terror cell from a banned Islamist group, a day after the blasts. that shook one of the Russian military bases in the area.

“All of them are detained. The activities of the terrorists were coordinated, as expected, from the territory of the terrorist state of Ukraine,” official Sergei Aksyonov said on Telegram.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine, which wants to restore its control of the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014, and accuses Moscow of waging an unprovoked imperialist war of conquest to seize more of its territory. .

Aksyonov said the suspects were members of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Russia.

An FSB statement did not say whether the detainees were linked to the explosions on Tuesday at a base in Dzhankoi, northern Crimea, and last week at a Russian military base in western Crimea, where satellite images showed that eight Russian warplanes had been destroyed.

But he mentioned Dzhankoi, along with the city of Yalta, as the two places where the alleged cell had been “neutralized”. On Tuesday, Russian authorities blamed saboteurs for the explosions in Dzhankoi.

The FSB said the cell had been recruiting local Muslims and accused it of carrying out terrorist activities.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack on bases in Crimea, which until recently was considered a secure rear base to support what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

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Military analysts have pointed to the possible involvement of Ukrainian partisan groups or special forces operating far behind enemy lines.

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