MOSCOW: A bomb went off yesterday at St. Petetrsburg station which killed atleast 14 people on board and injured dozens is now believed to be a suicide bombing attack. Russian investigating agency claim a suicide bomber was behind the deadly attack on the subway in Russia's second-largest city.
The investigative Committee said in a statement that they suspected that a man whose body fragments they found in the train was a suicide bomber. The committee said they have identified him but would not release any details in the interests of the probe.
The intelligence agency said it is cooperating with Russian authorities to help the investigation.
It is unclear whether the attack was a suicide bombing or whether the bomber got away.
Earlier, the Kyrgyzstan's State Committee of the National Security identified a suspect as Kyrgyz-born Russian Akbarzhon Dzhalilov. It is unclear whether the Russian and Kyrgyz statements referred the same man.Four subway stations in St. Peterburg are now closed following a bomb threat, the day after a bomb killed 14 people and wounded dozens while Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting the city.
If the attack was indeed the act of disgruntled Russians resorting to terrorism to express their discontent, the Kremlin will be dealing with a problem it hasn't faced in nearly a century. The shift from mostly nonviolent demonstration to terrorism, moreover, would give Moscow the justification it needs to pass even more stringent laws to control dissidence and monitor social media, particularly ahead of the 2018 presidential election.
Russian media giant Interfax, on the other hand, reported that a Central Asian man conducted the attack. The theory is plausible: After all, the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia have struggled in recent years with radicalization among their large youth and unemployed populations. If the report proves accurate, the incident will have serious repercussions for the roughly 200,000 Central Asian migrants legally living or working in Russia, as well as the estimated 200,000 others currently in the country illegally. As it is, many Russians harbor strong anti-immigrant sentiments.
Each of these theories represents a break from convention in Russia, where militants from Russia's North Caucasus region usually take the blame for situations such as this.
The last major attacks that terrorists from the area staged outside the region occurred in 2013 in Volgograd, just months before the Russian Winter Olympics in nearby Sochi. But now concern is growing that after years of relative quiet in the region, Russia's deteriorating economic situation could spur renewed militancy in the Caucasus. The republics of Chechnya and Dagestan — traditionally hotbeds of insurgent and militant activity — have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, a factor that could encourage radicalization among the local youth.
Even so, Moscow is well prepared to resume the fight against militancy in the North Caucasus seven years after it declared victory, however hollow, in its brutal war against Chechen separatists.