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2 arrested in killing of journalist

Police arrested two Chechens on Tuesday on suspicion of involvement in the killing of American journalist Paul Klebnikov, who was shot in Moscow in July as he left the offices of the Russian edition of Forbes, where he was editor, a spokesman for the Moscow police said.

Police detained the two at a Moscow apartment and also found a grenade and three weapons, including a type of pistol that police believe was used to kill Klebnikov, according to Pavel Klimovsky, the police spokesman. The gun is undergoing ballistic tests to determine whether it was the murder weapon, Klimovsky said.

The arrests fueled speculation that the killing was retribution for one of Klebnikov's books, Conversations with a Barbarian, in which he argued that some Chechen separatists were long-time criminals who had opportunistically cloaked themselves in the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism.

The book, published in Russian in 2003, was based on interviews with Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, a former deputy prime minister in a Chechen separatist government.

Klimovsky said that the two detained Chechens, who were 25 to 35 years old, came to the attention of police because of suspected involvement in other crimes, including a kidnapping. The police declined to provide further details about the men or the kidnapping.

A third Chechen was detained during the early morning raid at the Moscow apartment, but Klimovsky said he may be released.

The investigation is being led by the federal prosecutor general's office and the announcement of the arrests by Moscow police took some observers here by surprise. Prosecutors said releasing the information could harm the inquiry.

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