At least 14 people were killed Monday in a suspected suicide bombing on a trolleybus in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, officials said, a day after a bomb attack at the city's main train station killed 17 people.
State TV footage showed the twisted, gutted remains of the blue-and-white trolleybus, its roof blown off and debris strewn around the street.
“For the second day, we are dying -- it's a nightmare," a woman near the scene said, her voice trembling as she choked back tears. "What are we supposed to do, just walk now?"
Health Ministry spokesman Oleg Salagai told Rossiya-24 TV that 14 people were killed in the attack and 28 wounded.
Russian investigators said they believe a male suicide bomber was responsible for the blast.
"It is now possible to preliminarily say that the explosive device was set off by a suicide bomber -- a man whose body fragments have been collected and sent for genetic testing," the counter-terrorism Investigative Committee agency said in a statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin quickly ordered law enforcement groups to boost security in Volgograd and across the country as news of the deadly attack spread.
Putin issued several instructions to the Investigative Committee "to strengthen security Russia-wide and specifically in the Volgograd region," the Kremlin said, but did not provide further details of forthcoming security plans.
The attack came just a day after 17 people were killed and 45 others wounded when an explosion tore through Volgograd's train station.
The death toll from Sunday's attack rose to 17 from 16 overnight after another victim died in hospital of his wounds, the health ministry said.
Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in a statement shortly after that a female suicide bomber had carried out the attack.
The consecutive attacks have underscored Russia's vulnerability to militants and will raise fears of a concerted campaign of violence ahead of the country’s hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which lies about 430 miles (690 km) southwest of Volgograd.
The Sochi Games are a major prestige project for Putin. Insurgents who want to carve an Islamic state out of southern Russia urged militants in a web-posted video in July to use "maximum force" to prevent them from being held.
A vast security operation has been put in place in Sochi, with police, army and secret services all mobilized, but this means that other cities in southern Russia are more likely to be targeted, Alexei Filatov, deputy head of the veterans' association of the elite Alfa anti-terrorism unit, told Reuters.
"The threat is greatest now because it is when terrorists can make the biggest impression," he told Reuters. "The security measures were beefed up long ago around Sochi, so terrorists will strike instead in these nearby cities like Volgograd."
Volgograd, known as Stalingrad in the Soviet era, was also the scene of an attack earlier this year when a female suicide bomber with links to Islamists killed six people on a crowded bus on October 21.
French President François Hollande spoke to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin by telephone Monday to reiterate France’s “solidarity” with Russia in the face of terrorism.
It is “necessary and imperative to act against terror and to our coordinate efforts” in this regard, the Elysée presidential palace said in a statement.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2013-12-30