Suicide bomber responsible for St Petersburg blast, says Interfax

Eleven killed and multiple injuries after bomb explosion in Russian city’s metro system

Russia's President Vladimir Putin says the causes of blasts in St Petersburg metro are not yet clear, efforts underway to find out. Video: Reuters

 

A suicide bomber was responsible for the deadly blast in the St Petersburg metro on Monday, a law enforcement source told the Russian Interfax news agency, citing preliminary information.

The source also told Interfax that authorities had established the identity of the suspected suicide bomber and that the suspect was a 23-year-old from central Asia who had carried an explosive device into the St Petersburg metro in a rucksack.

A man who was captured on surveillance cameras and earlier suspected of a role in the blast came forward to police and said that he played no role, Interfax reported.

Separately, Russian news agencies indicated that President Vladimir Putin had met with security services over the incident and laid flowers at the metro station where the blast happened.

At least 11 people were killed and many more injured when a bomb exploded on an underground train in St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, on Monday.

The blast that had all the marks of a terrorist attack came as Mr Putin visited St Petersburg for a series of official engagements.

Russia’s Anti-Terrorism Committee said 11 people were killed, including one child, by an explosion on an underground train travelling between the Tecknologichesky Institut and Sennaya Ploshad underground train stations in the centre of Saint Petersburg early in the afternoon.

More than 40 people were injured in the blast.

Russia’s Anti-Terrorism Committee said it had found and made safe a second bomb at the Ploshad Vosstaniya underground station in St Petersburg shortly after the deadly blast.

Mr Putin, who was in the city to attend a media forum and hold talks with Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, was informed about the explosion, but decided against breaking off his busy official schedule.

The Russian investigative committee said it had opened a criminal case over the blast on charges of a terrorist attack.

St Petersburg has the fourth biggest underground train network in Europe carrying two million passengers a day, but has never before been the target of a terrorist attack.

Police said the train driver’s decision to continue the journey to the next station after the blast had facilitated the rescue effort and saved many lives.

Eyewitnesses told how panic broke out after a loud explosion in one carriage sent clouds of smoke billowing through the rest of the train. “Several people had no arms, no legs, everyone was covered in blood, Ulfi Fatallayev, told Snob online news service. “There was no light, people were screaming and the train just kept going. I don’t know how long it lasted. It seemed like an eternity.”

Photographs posted on social media websites showed passengers struggling to pull injured people through the mangled metal door of the stricken train carriage. Many passengers suffered lacerations from flying glass shards and metal

Russian security services ordered the complete shut down of the St Petersburg underground train network causing traffic chaos across the city.

The government of St Petersburg announced three days of mourning in the city.

Russian law enforcers launched a search for a man on Monday evening suspected of planting a briefcase holding a bomb on the underground train that later exploded.

Russian public transport systems have frequently been targeted by Islamist rebels from the North Caucasus in the past.

In one of the worst attacks 40 people were killed by a twin suicide bombing in March 2010 on at the Lyubanka station in the Moscow close to the headquarters of the Russian secret police.

Islamic State has added to tensions threatening to take revenge on Russia for its military intervention in Syria and support for Shia groups in the Middle East.

– (Additional reporting Reuters)