What’s Been Happening?
There were at least thirty eight people killed in 2010 when two female suicide bombers detonated bombs on packed Moscow metro trains. This was linked to the Chechen insurgency that was occurring at the time and forced the nation’s capital to brace for a terrorist comeback after several years of calm.
In December 2013, there were two separate suicide bombings in the city of Volgograd in Southern Russia. The first killed 18 people and injured at least 44 near the Volgograd-1 train station. On the following day, there was another suicide bombing on a trolleybus in Volgograd where at least sixteen people were killed. The blast tore apart the trolleybus, leaving a disfigured carcass and dozens injured. Most security experts linked these attacks to an Islamist insurgency that has sought to disrupt the Olympic Games in Sochi which was starting in a months’ time.
St Petersburg. On Monday, a bomb filled with shrapnel exploded in a metro train in Russia’s second-largest city. Initial reports stated that the device appeared to have been stacked with metal nuts and bolts to cause maximum damage and had been left in the carriage in a backpack. A huge hole was blasted in the side of a carriage, with the door blown off.
Officials have put the death toll from the explosion at fourteen people with around forty five others being hospitalised for treatment of their wounds. Although no one has claimed responsibility so far, there has been speculation that this is yet another terrorist attack that has been carried out by a suicide bomber with ties to an Islamic militant group.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was in the city when the blast struck and he visited the scene of the explosion on Monday night. He was cautious in his response, as “the reasons behind (the attack) are not clear yet, and so it would be premature to speak about them”. He laid a bunch of red flowers at a makeshift shrine to the victims near the Teckhnologichesky Institut subway station.
The Investigative Committee (Russia’s top investigative agency) have suggested that the likely suspect in the deadly blast is a Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen by the name of Akbarzhon Jalilov. He is the person who may have also planted an unexploded device that was found and defused at another metro station shortly after the blast.
- Thousands of people gathered outside the Kremlin walls on Thursday in solidarity with the victims of Monday’s bomb blast in St Petersburg. More “anti-terror” rallies are expected to take place in cities across Russia on the weekend.
- Russia’s state investigative committee will continue its search for more information about the incident, including background searches on the suspect and any of his accomplices. There have already been eight arrests made in connection with the attack.
- The blast has also raised security fears in other countries such as France. Having already suffered a series of attacks, it announced additional security measures in the immediate aftermath of the St Petersburg incident.
- Putin and Trump have agreed over the phone that terrorism must be “decisively and quickly defeated” which suggests that there may be talks of a joint military effort between America and Russia to hunt down the Islamic terrorist groups responsible for the attack. Given the political scrutiny between the two presidents, it is unlikely that anything will transpire but it is certainly a possibility.