MOSCOW – Russian authorities have arrested two people suspected of involvement in the attacks on two Russian planes that crashed nearly simultaneously after explosions on board two weeks ago, killing all 90 people on board, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The Russian prosecutor general's office did not identify the detainees or say how they were thought to be involved.
The Interfax news agency cited an unnamed source as saying one of the men is suspected of selling plane tickets to two Chechen women believed to have carried out the Aug. 24 bombings.
The man, originally from southern Russia's Krasnodar region, made money by illegally selling tickets at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, Interfax said. Both planes that crashed took off from that airport.
The crashes were the first in a series of attacks thought to be linked to the war in Chechnya (search) that have killed at least 450 people. In the other attacks, a homicide bomber detonated explosives at a subway station, killing 10. And days after that, dozens of heavily armed people took hostages at a school in southern Russia, which ended in the killing of more than 350 people, many of them children.
Suspicion in the plane attacks has fallen on two Chechen women whose passports, authorities say, were apparently used by passengers — one on each plane.
Investigators have determined that the two women arrived in Moscow earlier the same day from Dagestan, a region adjacent to Chechnya, the source quoted by Interfax said.
Investigators say they believe a suspect met the women at the airport, provided them with explosives and told them to buy tickets through a third party — not from a ticket office, Interfax reported.
The women approached the suspect from Krasnodar, who bought them tickets for two Sibir airlines (search) flights, then helped one of the women board a Sibir Tu-154 bound for Sochi after check-in had ended, the report said. That plane crashed in the Rostov region in southern Russia.
The other woman was unable to get on the second Sibir flight, so the suspect exchanged the ticket for one on a later Volga-Aviaexpress flight and helped her pass a security check, Interfax quoted the source as saying. That plane, a Tu-134, crashed in the Tula region south of Moscow.
Authorities have said traces of explosives were found in the wreckage of both planes.