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Lithuanian woman accused of plotting suicide attack in Russia

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — A Lithuanian woman has been detained on suspicion of liaising with radical Islamic groups and plotting a suicide attack against an undisclosed Russian military target, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Egle Kusaite, 20, was arrested in October after Lithuanian police received information about her alleged links to terrorists groups in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Britain, prosecutors said.

She was charged with engaging in terrorist activities and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors waited more than half a year to release information on the case because the probe has been ongoing. They were finally forced to make a statement during a court hearing in which she was ordered to remain in jail during the investigation.

"Egle Kusaite performed illegal actions, and was likely ordered by someone to go to Russia and blow herself up at a military object," prosecutor Justas Laucius said in court.

Her lawyer, Rasa Kucinskaite, argued Tuesday that she should be released until the start of the trial because there was no risk she would attempt an escape. She didn't say how the defendant views the allegations against her.

Laucius said Kusaite was trained to build and detonate explosive devices and that she received financing from abroad. He also said that the woman communicated with her handlers over the Internet.

Prosecutors have denied reports that Kusaite had been designated to take part in the March bombings in Moscow's subway that killed 40 people and wounded 121.

Kusaite, who was reported missing from her home in Klaipeda, Lithuania, in 2007, tried unsuccessfully to obtain a Russian visa several times, prosecutors said. Eventually, her request was accepted as part of a joint operation by Russian and Lithuanian security services that led to her arrest.

Laucius said that after getting the visa, Kusaite purchased a one-way ticket to Moscow.

Kusaite's former teacher, Alma Vaiciuliene, told the Lietuvos Rytas daily that Kusaite had a close relationship with a former Chechen rebel who lived in Lithuania. She said the rebel later returned to the North Caucasus region, where he was killed.

The predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia includes Chechnya, which is mired in violence stemming from two 1990s wars between separatist rebels and Russia's government. The area is wracked by bombings and almost daily clashes among police, militants and criminal gangs.