Moscow: An explosion rocked a subway train in central St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, killing nine people and injuring at least 29, in what authorities said may have been a terrorist attack.
A home-made bomb filled with shrapnel detonated inside a wagon between two stations at about 2:40 pm, the National Anti-Terror Committee said. Television footage from the underground Sennaya Ploshchad station about a mile from the Hermitage Museum showed the doors of the carriage blown open, with bloodied and dazed passengers lying on the platform amid billowing smoke.
President Vladimir Putin, who is in his home town of St. Petersburg for events Monday, said it’s premature to speak about potential causes of the blast, adding that terrorism was a possibility. Other officials were more categorical.
“All the signs of a terrorist attack are there,” Viktor Ozerov, head of the security committee in the upper house of parliament, said by phone from Moscow. “The complex of measures against terrorism in the country failed.”
Russia’s two biggest cities haven’t seen a major terrorist attack in more than five years. The Kremlin tightened security after bombings in the early 2000s, mostly claimed by separatists in Chechnya, killed hundreds. Since Putin sent forces into Syria in 2015, Islamic State has threatened to strike at Russia, claiming responsibility of the downing of a plane carrying Russian tourists from Egypt to St. Petersburg, which left 224 dead.
“These barbaric acts once again show that the terrorists’ main goal is to sow fear and uncertainty and cause instability in society,” Boris Gryzlov, a top official in the ruling United Russia party and a former interior minister, said after Monday’s attack, according to Tass.
The bomb appeared to have been left in the train, not detonated by a suicide bomber, Interfax reported. An unexploded device was later found at another station and disarmed by police, officials said.
Officials in St. Petersburg, home to about 5 million people, put the death toll at 10, with more than 50 hurt, but the Anti-Terror Committee later released lower figures without explanation. The entire subway network was closed after the attack as security was stepped up across the city. In Moscow, officials also tightened controls across ground transportation networks and airports.
Suicide bombers attacked the capital’s subway system in coordinated attacks in 2010 that claimed 40 lives. The last major attacks took place in December 2013, just weeks before the he Sochi Winter Olympics, when suicide bombers killed more than 30 people at a train station and on a bus in Volgograd.
Islamic State has repeatedly threatened to stage attacks in Russia in revenge for the Russian bombing in Syria that started in September 2015.
Russian-speaking jihadists make up the largest foreign contingent fighting on behalf of the fundamentalist Sunni group in Syria, sparking fears they could spread terrorist violence if they return to Russia. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for several attacks on security forces in the mostly Muslim Caucasus region in southern Russia.
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Video of St. Petersburg subway explosion aftermath pic.twitter.com/jAZ9M8Mwiw
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