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4 Men Given Prison Time for Role in Volgograd Suicide Bombings

The moment a suicide bomber struck Volgograd's central train station.

A Russian court on Friday sentenced four ethnic Dagestani men to prison time for their roles in a terrorist group that conducted two suicide bombings, killing a total of 34 people, last year in the southern city of Volgograd.

Alautdin Dadayev and Ibragim Mamedov were sentenced by a Volgograd court on Friday to 19 years in a maximum security prison on charges of terrorism and participation in an illegal armed group, news agency Interfax reported.

Brothers Magomed and Tagir Batirov were sentenced to three years and 10 months for aiding an illegal armed group, the report said. All four men lived in Volgograd.

The bombings — on a trolleybus and at the central train station — on Dec. 29 and Dec. 30 sparked widespread fears that Russian authorities would not be able to guarantee safety at the Winter Games in Sochi — just 700 kilometers away — and led to a sweeping anti-terrorist operation with hundreds of people detained.

The attacks have been attributed to an Islamist cell in Dagestan — four members of which were killed in a gunfight with Russian law enforcement forces in February.

Dadayev and Mamedov were found guilty of housing terrorists while they were preparing attacks, the Investigative Committee said on its website.

The committee also said the Batirov brothers had brought the terrorists into Volgograd from Dagestan — hiding them among 188 bales of hay bought specifically for the purpose — but said they had not known they were shipping suicide bombers.

It remained unclear whether the convicts plan to appeal.

A resilient Islamist insurgency persists in the North Caucasus despite two decades of government effort to suppress it.

Even in Chechnya, considered until recently to have been pacified by local strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an audacious terrorist rampage on Thursday left 10 police dead and a local press house torched.

Law enforcement agencies reportedly killed 10 attackers, who some experts said may be affiliated with the Middle Eastern terrorist group Islamic State.

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