Monday, 29 March 2010

Female suicide bombers in Moscow

Two female suicide bombers killed at least 37 people and injured 65 on packed Moscow metro trains today.

President Dmitry Medvedev declared Russia would act 'without compromise' to root out terrorists as he ordered airports to be put on alert and security to be stepped up throughout the country.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the worst attack on the Russian capital for six years, but suspicion will fall on Muslim militants from the North Caucasus, where the Kremlin is fighting a growing Islamist insurgency spreading from Chechnya to neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Witnesses spoke of panic at the two underground stations, with people falling over each other in dense smoke and dust as they tried to escape.
The first blast tore through the second carriage of a metro train just before 8am as it stood at the Lubyanka station, close to the headquarters of Russia's main domestic security service FSB. It killed at least 23 people.

About 40 minutes later, another blast in the second carriage of a train waiting at the Park Kultury metro station, opposite Gorky Park, killed 12 to 14 more people.

Russian leaders had declared victory in their battle with Chechen separtists who fought two wars with Moscow. But while violence subsided in Chechnya, it has spread and intensified in neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia, where clan rivalries overlap with criminal gangs and Islamist militants.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov told reporters that female suicide bombers had carried out the attacks.

Prosecutors said they had opened a 'terrorism investigation' after forensic experts found the remains of a female bomber.

Vladimir Putin cemented his power in 1999 in launching an ultimately successful war to overthrow a separatist government lodged in the Chechen capital Grozny.

Russian leaders fear the loss of this region endangering energy transit routes could destabilise other areas in a country spanning 11 time zones.

'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,' an unidentified man who was on the train at Park Kultury told RIA news agency in a video interview.

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