Russia can't be target for Islamic fundamentalists, Putin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Interior Ministry officials in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia cannot be a target for Islamic fundamentalists, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, nearly two weeks after at least 144 people were killed near Moscow in a mass shooting that was claimed by Islamic State militants.

"We have every reason to believe that the main goal of those who ordered the bloody, awful terrorist act in Moscow was to damage our unity," Putin said in televised comments.

"There are no other goals visible, there are none, because Russia cannot be the target of terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists. We are a country that demonstrates a unique example of interfaith harmony and unity, of inter-religious and inter-ethnic unity."

Russia has repeatedly said the attack was ordered by Ukraine, while not providing evidence to back that assertion. Ukraine has denied involvement and the United States - which warned Russia beforehand of an impending attack by Islamist militants - has said Moscow's version is nonsense.

(Reporting by Reuters)