Suicide bombings hit Moscow Metro
At least 38 people have been killed after two female suicide bombers blew themselves up on Moscow Metro trains in the morning rush hour, officials say.
Twenty-four died in the first blast at 0756 (0356 GMT) as a train stood at the central Lubyanka station, beneath the offices of the FSB intelligence agency.
About 40 minutes later, a second explosion ripped through a train at Park Kultury, leaving another 14 dead.
The FSB said it was likely a group from the North Caucasus was responsible.
The BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow says no group has yet said it carried out the attacks, but past suicide bombings in the capital have been carried out by or blamed on Islamist rebels fighting for independence in Chechnya.
“ People were yelling like hell... Within about two minutes everything was covered in smoke ”
In February, Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov said "the zone of military operations will be extended to the territory of Russia... the war is coming to their cities".
At an emergency meeting with senior officials, President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to uphold the "policy of suppressing terror and the fight against terrorism".
"We will continue operations against terrorists without compromises and to the end," he said.
Federal security forces have scored a series of successes against militants in the North Caucasus in recent weeks. In February, at least 20 insurgents were killed in an operation by troops in Ingushetia.
Emergency services ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said the first explosion tore through the second carriage of a train as it stood at Lubyanka at the peak of the rush hour.
AT THE SCENE
Yuri Maloveryan BBC News, Moscow
Outside Lubyanka Station, traffic has been restored, but Lubyanka Square remains closed to pedestrians - there are only police, officials and journalists. There are reports of informal taxis charging thousands of roubles - up to 4,000 roubles (£90) - for a fare that would normally cost 150 roubles (£3.40) - to get people to where they want.
Following news of the attacks, some people went back home, but many still came in to work using the rest of the Metro network, which is almost impossible to close down because it is so big and so heavily used.
The station, on both the busy Sokolnicheskaya and Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya lines, lies beneath the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB).
"I was moving up on the escalator when I heard a loud bang, a blast. A door near the passage way arched, was ripped out and a cloud of dust came down on the escalator," an eyewitness named Alexei told Rossiya 24 TV channel.
"People started running, panicking, falling on each other," he said.
The second blast at Park Kultury, which is six stops away from Lubyanka on the Sokolnicheskaya line, came at 0838 (0438 GMT). It struck at the back of the train as people were getting on board.
"I was in the middle of the train when somewhere in the first or second carriage there was a loud blast. I felt the vibrations reverberate through my body," one passenger told the RIA news agency.
"People were yelling like hell," he said. "There was a lot of smoke and within about two minutes everything was covered in smoke."
More than 60 people were injured in the two attacks, 30 of them badly, officials said.
In a meeting with President Medvedev, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said its investigators believed the attacks had been carried out by "terrorist groups related to the North Caucasus".
"This is likely to be our main conclusion, because fragments of the bodies of two female suicide bombers were found earlier at the scene of the incident and examinations show that these individuals came from the North Caucasus region," he said.
Citing a preliminary forensic report, Mr Bortnikov added that the devices had been made with the powerful explosive, hexogen, which is more commonly known as RDX.
The bomb that went off at Lubyanka station had an equivalent force of up to 4kg of TNT, while the bomb at Park Kultury was equivalent to 1.5-2kg of TNT, he said. The devices were filled with chipped iron rods and screws for shrapnel.
Federal prosecutors said they had opened an investigation into "suspected acts of terrorism".
Parts of the Metro system have been closed down as a precaution, and 700 interior ministry troops have been deployed on the streets.
"The whole city is a mess, people are calling each other, the operators can't cope with such a huge number of calls at a time," said Olga, a BBC News website reader in Moscow. "Those who witnessed the tragedy can't get over the shock."
President Medvedev asked officials to increase security on the public transport system nationwide. "What was being done needs to be substantially strengthened," he said. "Look at this problem on the scale of the state, not only as it applies to a particular type of transport and a particular city."
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has cut short a visit to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, said a crime that was "terrible in its consequences and heinous in its manner" had been committed.
"I am confident that law enforcement bodies will spare no effort to track down and punish the criminals. Terrorists will be destroyed," he added.
US President Barack Obama condemned the "outrageous acts", and said the American people stood united with the people of Russia in opposition to violent extremism.
MOSCOW METRO ATTACKS
March 2010: Two suicide bombers blow themselves up at Lubyanka station and Park Kultury station, killing 35 people
August 2004: Suicide bomber blows herself up outside Rizhskaya station, killing 10
February 2004: Suicide bombing on Zamoskvoretskaya line, linking main airports, kills 40
August 2000: Bomb in pedestrian tunnel leading to Tverskaya station kills 13
February 2000: Blast injures 20 inside Belorusskaya station
June 1996: Bomb on the Serpukhovskaya line kills four
January 1998: Three injured by blast at Tretyakovskaya station
The EU's foreign affairs chief, Baroness Ashton, also condemned the bombings and offered the bloc's "solidarity to the Russian authorities". Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pledged its commitment to fight with Russia against terrorism.
The co-ordinated attacks were the deadliest in Moscow since February 2004, when at least 39 people were killed by a bomb on a packed metro train as it approached the Paveletskaya station.
Six months later, a suicide bomber blew herself up outside another station, killing 10 people. Both attacks were blamed on Chechen rebels.
In November, Doku Umarov said his Caucasian Mujahadeen had carried out a bombing that killed 26 people on board an express train travelling from Moscow to Russia's second city of St Petersburg.
The attack came six months after President Medvedev declared an end to Russia's "counter-terrorism operations" in Chechnya, in a bid to "further normalise the situation" after 15 years of conflict that claimed more than 100,000 lives and left it in ruins.
Despite this, the mainly Muslim republic continues to be plagued by violence, and over the past two years Islamist militants have stepped up attacks in neighbouring Ingushetia and Dagestan.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/e ... 592190.stm
Published: 2010/03/29 13:13:59 GMT
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