Female Suicide Bomber Blamed For Russia Blast
Fifteen people are feared killed and another 50 injured in an apparent suicide bombing in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, highlighting the region's security vulnerability just six weeks from the Winter Olympics.
The blast ripped through the station building in an area between the entrance and the metal frames installed as a precaution against terror attacks. The authorities said the prime suspect was a woman, raising the spectre once again of the "black widow" attacks perpetrated by young Caucasus women widowed by Russia's protracted military effort to tame the region.
CCTV video shows a bright flash of light inside the station building as the camera, located several hundred metres across the square, shakes from the impact. A cloud of smoke emerges seconds later.
Pictures published on social networks show people trying to help the injured lying on ice-covered ground in front of the palatial Stalin-era station building, its windows smashed by the blast. Witnesses report seeing many dead bodies near the station entrance. The emergencies ministry sent specially equipped aircraft to take people with the worst injuries to medical centres in Moscow, where they can get better treatment.
Volgograd, previously called Stalingrad, is a major railway hub on the route connecting European Russia with central Asia. It is something of a gateway to the Caucasus, and situated just 600 miles from Sochi, the Black Sea city where the Winter Olympics are scheduled to start on 7 February. Russian authorities have insisted there will be no security threats to the event, despite the fact that the city lies just west of the restive North Caucasus region. In July, the leader of the remaining Chechen jihadist groups, Doku Umarov, warned that the militants would try sabotage the Games.
The city was the scene of another blast two months ago on a crowded bus. That attack was also blamed on a female suicide bomber hailing from Dagestan, a few hundred miles away from Volgograd.
Another explosion killed three people near a police station in the North Caucasus city of Pyatigorsk on Friday.
A man wearing a "suicide bombers belt" – essentially wrapped in explosives – was arrested in the Stavropol region, also southern Russia, in November.