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Europe

Deadly explosions rock Moscow metro stations

©

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-03-29

Successive blasts ripped through two metro stations in central Moscow during the morning rush hour, killing 38 people. Russian officials say female suicide bombers are responsible for the attacks.

Two successive explosions shook the heart of Moscow’s metro system Monday morning, killing 38 people. 

Preliminary investigations by Russian officials at the scene have revealed that suicide bombers were responsible.
 
"Two female terrorist suicide bombers carried out these bombings," Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov told reporters.
 
According to FRANCE 24 correspondent Dmitry Medvedenko: "Forensic experts claim to have found body fragments of a woman they believe to be the suicide bomber who triggered the explosion, equivalent to one and a half kilograms of TNT”.
 
Peak rush hour in Moscow
 
The first blast occurred in the Lubyanka station in central Moscow, near the Russian security and intelligence agency offices, at 7:56 am local time (0356 GMT) and killed at least 25 people.
 
A second explosion tore through the Park Kultury station, on the same metro line, at 8:37 am local time.
 
ITAR-TASS said heavy early morning traffic hampered rescue efforts.
 
“This was the very peak of the rush hour here in Moscow,” said Dmitry Medvedenko, Russia correspondent for FRANCE 24.
 
Both locations are close to the Kremlin in the historical centre of Moscow. The Lubyanka and Park Kultury metro stations have been sealed off while investigations continue.
 
Dave Lezin, one of FRANCE 24’s Observers, was about to exit the Kultury station when a blast sounded. “I heard the explosion…a big boom. People were running, panicked,” he said.

Lezin said he found it unfortunate that metro services were not suspended more quickly, however. “We were not informed of the first attack,” he explained. “No one evacuated the passengers, but they should have. There would have been fewer victims”.
 

'There hasn’t been a blast in four years'
 
Moscow has not seen high-profile terrorist attacks in many years. Terrorist attacks by Chechen separatists – often conducted by female suicide bombers – occurred frequently between the late 1990s and 2006.
 
“There hasn’t been a blast in four years,” said Medvedenko. “There’s a slight sense of panic … an hour ago, mobile phones were dead with everybody calling each other.”
 
In February 2004, 39 people were killed in the suicide bombing of a packed rush hour train in Moscow.
 
“Crippling the metro system sends a very clear message to the Russian authorities,” said Annette Young, FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor.
 
No group has yet claimed responsibility for Monday's blasts, but Russia has been facing a growing Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus region in recent months.
 

 

 

Date created : 2010-03-29

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