Explosion at Train Station in Volgograd© Russian Union of Volunteers
Explosion at Train Station in Volgograd© Photo Liza Sveshnikova
Originally posted at 13:19 and updated throughout the day
MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) – More than a dozen people were killed Sunday when a blast ripped through a railway station in the southern Russian city of Volgograd in what authorities say was an attack carried out by a suicide bomber.
If confirmed, the presumed attack will prove to have been the second in the city in the space of just a little over two months and will provoke deep anxiety as Russia readies to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi early next year.
Russia's Investigative Committee said 16 people were killed in the blast that occurred at 12:45 p.m. (0845 GMT) near the metal detectors at the front entrance to Volgograd-1 train station. A total of 14 people died at the scene and two others died at hospital.
A total of 44 people were injured and 37 of them have been hospitalized, a spokesman for Russia’s Health Ministry said.
The blast occurred just 30 minutes before a train from Moscow was due to arrive at the station.
The remains of a suspected suicide bomber were discovered at the scene of the blast and will undergo DNA testing, spokesman Vladimir Markin said.
Several versions of the deadly attack are being investigated. One of them is that the attack could have been carried out by a man, Markin said. Local media reports said a male finger with a pin from a grenade was found at the scene.
Earlier reports said a female suicide bomber could have been behind the attack.
Oksana Aslanova, a native of Russia's North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan, and widow of a leader of a militant group, was named as a possible suspect, a local police source said. He added that the report has yet to be confirmed by officials.
The bomb contained 10 kg of TNT and was rigged with shrapnel, Markin said. An unexploded shell was also found at the blast scene and destroyed by bomb disposal experts, he said.
Among the injured is a nine-year-old girl whose mother shielded her with her own body at the time of the blast, city mayor Irina Guseva told reporters. The woman died at the scene and the girl is in a critical state.
Some victims are to be evacuated by the Emergency Situations Ministry by plane to Moscow, approximately a 90-minute flight away, for medical help.
The Emergency Situations Ministry has sent a plane to Volgograd carrying a team of 22 doctors and medical equipment to help the injured, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Another plane with doctors and medical equipment is expected to fly to Volgograd at night.
The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said that the explosion was caused by an unidentified device and that it was probably the work of a female suicide bomber. It did not speculate on who might be responsible.
Surveillance footage of the building's exterior posted online showed a massive fireball erupting within the train station's central hall, followed by clouds of smoke streaming out the windows.
One police officer was killed and six more were wounded as they worked nearby the entrance's metal detectors, the Interior Ministry said.
The policeman started moving in the direction of the suspicious woman and wanted to check her documents when the blast occurred, in which he was killed, the statement said.
President Vladimir Putin expressed regrets to families of blast victims Sunday. He ordered ministers and heads of law enforcement agencies to find those who were behind the explosion.
A mourning period will be observed over the first three days of next year to recognize the victims of the explosion. Security has been tightened at railroad stations in Volgograd and Moscow.
The attack has been condemned by leaders and organizations around the world.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement: “There can be no justification for such barbarous attacks. NATO and Russia stand together in the fight against terrorism, including by working together on technology to prevent attacks on public transport systems. We will continue to cooperate to improve the safety of our citizens, and the security of our countries.”
Terrorist incidents have persisted in southern Russia despite stated efforts by the authorities to step up security precautions ahead of the Winter Games starting in February.
The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, opening on February 7, are major prestige project for Putin and Russia.
On Friday, a car bomb killed three people in the city of Pyatigorsk, which is 530 kilometers south of Volgograd and 270 kilometers east of Sochi.
In another attack in Volgograd in late October, six people were killed and 37 injured when a bomb carried by a young woman from the southern republic of Dagestan detonated while she was travelling on a crowded commuter bus.
The cities blighted by those attacks are located close to the North Caucasus, a multiethnic and volatile region that suffers near-daily attacks on officials, police and civilians by local militant groups.
The persisting violence has its roots in a separatist struggle in the unruly republic of Chechnya in the early 1990s that evolved into a ruthless Islamist insurgency that spread to neighboring territories. The bulk of the clashes have in recent years focused on Dagestan.
Most of the militants responsible for terrorist attacks in Russia over the last decade – including female suicide bombers who have taken part in 20 attacks claiming at least 780 lives since June 2000 – have come from this region.
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- dykalgterror13:59, 29/12/2013In July, Chechen insurgent leader Doku Umarov posted an online video urging militants to use "maximum force" to prevent the Games from going ahead.
I notice the Pussy Riot ladies have the same goal.
- LocoIvanOhh dear no,…19:24, 29/12/2013You are terribly mistaken, the root to this COWARDLY phenomenon is clearly evident.
According to one of RIANovosti’s renowned disrespected conspiracist commentator, bielec, this terribly unfortunate and senseless murder of innocent people has NOTHING to do with Doku Umarov, Russia or Pussy Riot, for that matter, no I tell you!
Instead, it has EVERYTHING to do with the recruitment/programming of internal ‘manchurian candidate’ Russian bred Islamofacist zealots, in one huge coordinated effort by dastardly ‘Western investors’ to unilaterally foment regional turmoil/misery/devastation for the unfounded motive of ME pipelines connecting to the EU. Yes, yes indeed!
He laments with such controlling confidence:
‘This is the main reason for unrests and so called "liberation movements" in Dagestan and other places in this region.’
And, of course, this is all unequivocally true because it is based on his delusional ‘…perspective of over 60 years of practical experience in politics.’
What known mortal could ever attempt to question such sophistic knowledge/experience? Sacrilege, I say!
Therefore, do not be UPSET with yourself if you did not GRASP the neo-con subversive underpinning that motivated this lost FIEND of a suicide bomber and her abhorrent final living act, for now you truly know!
- cherusk(no title)18:36, 29/12/2013High time to rename Volgograd as Stalingrad
- ruypenalvaTerrorist attack in Russia do not...20:40, 29/12/2013Terrorist attack in Russia do not provoke indignation in the rest of the world as russians lives were not as important as american lives? Why? Why two single death in Boston seem more important to international press than eighteen death in Russia?
- rationalamericanThat is a very complicated answer09:49, 30/12/2013First off, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of this tragic and cowardly attack. May the Russian authorities quickly track down the co-conspirators and bring them to justice. It is a pity that Russia abolished the death penalty, criminals such as them deserve nothing but the noose for their actions.
But in regard to your question, there are several things I would like to explain and please do not take any of what I have to say as offensive or trying to be confrontational.
Firstly, I would like to point out that you are comparing an event that has concluded and a situation that is still quite active and the impact of which has not been fully measured.
Secondly, Boston attack was the first terrorist attack on American soil in twelve years. That is what really made it a huge story, the rarity of such an occurrence. However Russia unfortunately suffers more attacks from terrorists because of its vicinity to the Caucuses, and so the media cares less. They tend to have a very short attention span and shy away from the more complex stories.
Please know that there are many Bostonians who sympathize with the people of Volgograd and many more Americans who empathize with the Russian people's fight against terrorism.
*4 people were killed and 264 were injured in Boston.
- MichaeliCondolences21:44, 30/12/2013My sympathy to all the victims, their families and friends.
- freedom guyhit Bandar's Royal palace16:00, 31/12/2013Russia should send a few missile's in on bandar's Palace, and I bet the attacks would Stop, Time to get tuff with the Fake Royals in S.A.