Sunday, December 29, 2013

'Suicide bomber' hits Russia's Volgograd train station

BBC News online -- 29 December 2013
Footage from a CCTV camera showed the moment of the blast
An attack on a train station in Russia's southern city of Volgograd has killed 15 people, officials say.
A female suicide bomber was thought to be responsible for the blast, Russia's top investigative agency said.

A suspected female suicide bomber killed at least six people when she attacked a bus in the city in October.

Moscow is concerned militant groups could be ramping up violence in the run up to the the 2014 winter Olympic Games in the city of Sochi in six weeks.


In June, Doku Umarov, one of the leaders of the Islamist insurgency in the Russian Caucasus republics, called on his supporters to use "maximum force" to disrupt the "satanic" winter Olympics in Sochi.
It is too early to say whether the attack in Volgograd was by one of his supporters.
But it shows that - despite the metal detectors at railway stations, airports and shopping centres in Russia - bombers are still able to kill and wreak havoc.
It also shows that the attacks will not have to be on Sochi itself to attract attention.
An Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus region has led to many attacks there in recent years. Insurgents have also attacked big Russian towns.

Volgograd lies about 900km (560 miles) south of Moscow, 650km north of the North Caucasus and 700km north-east of Sochi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered law enforcement agencies to take "all necessary security measures" in the bomb's aftermath, said a Kremlin spokesman.

Mr Putin has ordered the most gravely injured victims to be flown to Moscow for treatment.
Security would be stepped up at train stations and airports, said a federal police spokesman.

Sunday's explosion rocked Volgograd-1 station at around 12:45 (08:45 GMT) at a time when millions of Russians are travelling to celebrate the New Year.

The bomb contained 10 kg (22 pounds) of TNT, was rigged with shrapnel and was detonated near the metal detectors at the station entrance, said a spokesman for the Investigative Committee.
Rescue workers outside bomb-hit Volgograd-1 train station, Russia, 29 December 2013 The blast blew out many windows and sent debris down the station steps
Volgograd-1 railway station, 29 December 2013 Formerly known as Stalingrad, Volgograd has a million residents and is described as a gateway to Russia
"When the suicide bomber saw a policeman near a metal detector, she became nervous and set off her explosive device," said the spokesman, Vladimir Markin.
He said the security presence had prevented a much higher death toll at the station, which was packed at the time of the blast as several trains were delayed.

Recent attacks inside Russia

  • 29 December 2013: Suspected female suicide bomber kills at least 14 in attack at Volgograd-1 train station
  • 27 December 2013: Car bomb kills three in the southern city of Pyatigorsk
  • 21 October 2013: Suspected female suicide bomber kills six in attack on bus in Volgograd
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, which Mr Markin said injured 34 people - eight critically - including a nine-year-old girl whose mother was killed in the attack.

The Interfax news agency said the suspected bomber's head had been found at the site, which would allow her swift identification.

RIA Novosti news agency said security sources were naming the attacker as Oksana Aslanova. She has reportedly been married twice to militants and is also suspected of being a friend of Naida Asiyalova, the suicide bomber who targeted the Volgograd bus in October.

A nearby security camera facing the station caught the moment of the blast, showing a bright orange flash behind the station's main doors.

The explosion shattered windows and sent debris and plumes of smoke from the station entrance.
Russia map
Ambulances rushed the injured to hospital, while motionless bodies were laid out in the station forecourt.

The incident was being treated as an act of terrorism, Mr Markin said.

In July, Chechen insurgent leader Doku Umarov posted an online video urging militants to use "maximum force" to prevent the Games from going ahead.

On Friday, a car bomb killed three people in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk.

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