Russian president to tighten security, assist Moscow blasts victims' families
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev demanded tightened security across the country after the early Monday morning blasts in the Moscow subway and pledged government assistance to the families of those who died or were injured in the explosions.
"It is difficult to prevent such terrorist attacks and to provide security on transportation," the president said. "It is necessary to tighten what we do, to look at the problem on a national scale, not only relating to a certain populated area but on a national scale. Obviously, what we have done before is not enough."
"It is necessary to remain on alert," Medvedev said. "It is obvious that such attacks were thoroughly planned and were expected to have a large-scale striking effect, aimed to destabilize the situation in the country and in society," he added.
The president stressed that it is important to control the situation stringently but without violation of citizens' rights.
The Russian president will hold a meeting later on Monday on assisting the families of those who died or were injured in the blasts as well as a meeting on cleanup operations following the terrorist attacks.
Medvedev said that the priority is to help those who were affected by the explosions and their families.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said the subway line hit by the two separate terrorist attacks will resume operation within several hours.
Two blasts in Moscow's subway stations Lubyanka and Park Kultury occurred during the early morning rush hour with an interval of 40 minutes, the first one at approximately 8:00 a.m. Moscow time (5:00 GMT). According to preliminary information, at least 37 people have died and dozens were injured.
MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti)
Security stepped up across Russia after deadly Moscow blasts
Security has been tightened across Russia after two powerful blasts tore through the Moscow metro system on Monday morning, killing at least 37 people.
"It is difficult to prevent such terrorist attacks and to provide security on transport," President Dmitry Medvedev said. "It is necessary to tighten up what we do and to look at the problem on a national scale.
"Obviously, what we have done before is not enough," he said.
Interior Ministry head Rashid Nurgaliyev told Medvedev that security was being boosted across the country, "in particular in those cities with metro systems."
The first attack took place at 7:52 a.m. (03:52 GMT) at the Lubyanka station, located a short distance from Red Square and the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB), and killed at least 24 people
The second blast detonated some 40 minutes later at the nearby Park Kultury station, also within walking distance of the Kremlin. At least 12 people lost their lives.
One more person is reported as having died in the bombings. The total number of injured in both blasts is over 60.
The head of the Federal Security Services (FSB) said terrorists from Russia's North Caucasus may have been involved in the attacks.
Russia's top investigator Vladimir Markin said police may be able to identify the two female suicide bombers who carried out the attacks. He added that the women's faces had not suffered in the blasts.
Markin earlier told journalists that the second attack had been carried out by a "dark-haired woman" and that "fragments of her body" found at the scene suggested she had had the equivalent of 1.5 kg of TNT strapped to her waist.
A police source earlier told RIA Novosti that "An inspection of the scene indicates that the bomb was detonated at a height of 100-200 cm and was apparently attached to the waist of a female suicide bomber."
Russia has been fighting militants in the North Caucasus for over a decade, including two brutal separatist wars in Chechnya. Analysts suggest Monday's attacks are revenge for a recent operation in Chechnya that saw the deaths of over 20 radical Islamic fighters.
Aside from Chechnya, violence is also a regular occurrence in the neighboring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan.
If terrorism is confirmed as the cause of the blasts, this will be the first major terrorist incident in the Russian capital since the autumn of 2004, when ten people were killed in a suicide bomb attack outside a north Moscow metro station.
The explosion was part of a series of terrorist attacks that also saw 90 people die in two plane bombings and the deaths of over 300 people, many of them children, when Chechen terrorists seized a school in Beslan.
A bomb also hit a Moscow-St. Petersburg express train last November, killing 27 people.
MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti)
Factbox - blasts in Moscow subway system
Two blasts ripped through Lubyanka and Park Kultury Moscow subway stations early on Monday morning.
At least 37 were killed and 62 injured during the attacks, law enforcement agencies announced.
This was the first terrorist attack on the Russian capital over the last six years. Here is a factbox over the main terrorist attacks in Moscow's subway stations.
A blast rocked the area between Rizhskaya metro station and a shopping center on August 31, 2004, at 8:15 p.m., killing 10 people and wounding more than 40.
A female suicide bomber was blamed for the blast. She failed to approach a group of police near the entrance of the subway station and instead detonated the bomb nearby.
The responsibility for the terrorist act near Rizhkaya station was assumed by the Islambuli brigades, an Islamist movement, considered to be part of an international terrorist organization. A message saying the attack was an act of support to Chechen Muslims, appeared on an Islamist site later.
Militant Nikolai Kipkeyev, an accomplice to the suicide bomber, was killed during the blast. The investigation found he was the tutor of the female suicide bomber. Kipkeyev had a fake passport and a cell-phone which helped law enforcement agencies detain three other members of the gang, among them a former Russian Defense Ministry serviceman, who had earlier accepted Islam. All of them were sentenced to life in prison.
On February 6, 2004, a bomb detonated during rush hour, 40 people were killed and 134 injured. The blast occurred in the tunnel between the Avtozavodskaya and Paveletskaya stations.
The train engineer, Vladimir Gorelov, was awarded an Order of Courage for his professional merits during the emergency which saved the life of many people.
On February 5, 2001, an explosive device hidden in a small bag blew up at Belorusskaya station at 6:45 p.m., injuring 15 people.
On January 1, 1998, an explosion ripped through Tretyakovskaya station in central Moscow. The train engineer found a small bag with batteries and wires. The bomb detonated at 9:39 a.m., injuring only three people.
A bomb exploded in the tunnel between the Tulskaya and Nagatinskaya stations ahead of the presidential elections on June 11, 1996, at 9:10 p.m. The shock wave from the blast blew out windows in the passenger cars and smoke entailed. Three people were killed and 16 injured.
A bomb exploded in a tunnel between the Pervomayskaya and Izmailovskaya subway stations on January 8, 1977, at 5:33 p.m. Many adults and children, returning from festive parties were killed in the blast.
Three Armenians of an underground political organization were blamed for the accident. They were sentenced to the death penalty.
MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti)
Eyewitness of the two explosions on the Moscow metro this morning have described the chaos that ensued after the blasts.
Alexandra Antonova described her reaction to the blast at Lubyanka metro station, where the first bomb was detonated.
"I was in shock. I was deafened by the sound of the blast, but at first I didn't think it was a terrorist attack. Then I saw all the smoke and realized it had been an explosion.
"My only thought was to get away as quickly as possible," she said.
She managed to change to a different train and arrived at Park Kultury metro station, the site of the second attack, just a few minutes before the blast.
"I was very lucky," she said.
Valery Shuverov, a witness at Park Kultury said reports of the power of the explosion had been exaggerated.
“It wasn’t big; that’s why this talk of two or three kilos of TNT is just bullshit. Maybe one or one and a half. But there were so many people packed together. That’s why there was such a high number of casualties.
“I’ve seen loads of explosions in my time, and this was nothing. I’m fine. It was just a ‘pop’ like the kind if fire crackers we might let off at New Year.”
He added that the reaction to the explosion was very calm
“There were some women crying and screaming and there were some people bleeding and wounded, but they were walking. I was two or three carriages away, so I didn’t see any bodies or anything.”
After the explosions there was a rush of people trying to leave the subway stations. The Moscow metro is one of the busiest in the world, carrying around 5,5 million passengers a day. Rush hour, when the attacks took place, is one of the busiest times.
One witness said that some of the wounded were pushed along in the crowd of around 1,000 people trying to leave the station via one escalator.
“At the exit near the escalator two wounded women, who had been carried along in the crowd, overtook me. They had cuts on their faces and burnt hair. There was also a man with a wound on his neck.”
Moscow student Ivan Bukhradtse said he experienced trouble trying to leave Park Kultury station.
“I saw several wounded people being carried and some walking by themselves. There was a lot of smoke and one escalator wasn’t working so people had difficulties leaving the metro,” he said.
“The metro staff and the police were very helpful. They reacted very well. The main problem was that they didn’t shut down the subway system. If they had stopped it immediately, there there wouldn’t have been such big crowds.”
The first attack took place at 7:52 a.m. (03:52 GMT) at the Lubyanka station, located a short distance from the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB), and killed at least 24 people, with another 39 injured.
The second blast detonated some 40 minutes later at the nearby Park Kultury station, within walking distance of the Kremlin. At least 12 people lost their lives and 23 were injured.
One more person is reported to have died in the bombings, making the death toll 37.
Moscow, March 29 (RIA Novosti)
World deplores Moscow blasts, sends condolences to Russia
Foreign states have described the blasts on Monday morning in Moscow's subway, which killed over 30 people, as "cowardly attacks" and expressed their condolences to victims in messages of compassion and support for Russia.
"We deplore these cowardly attacks in the most resolute manner," a statement by the German Foreign Ministry said. "Nothing can justify these vicious acts."
A similar message came from the French Foreign Ministry.
"France resolutely denounces these terrorist acts and assures Russia in its full support," it said.
Russian investigators said two women, who acted as suicide bombers, were responsible for the blasts at Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations in central Moscow. They said the explosive devices they used were equivalent to up to 2 kg of TNT.
"People in our country share the pain of the heavy and unrecoverable loss," Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said in his message to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.
"I am deeply shocked by the bloody terrorist act against peaceful people," a message from Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said.
MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti)
Scores of Muscovites seek medical help with nervous breakdowns after subway blasts
© REUTERS/ Alexander Natruskin
Dozens of Moscow residents and visitors turned to doctors with nervous breakdowns and heart attacks after two early morning blasts in the capital's subway, a medical source said.
Two blasts in Moscow's subway stations Lubyanka and Park Kultury occurred during rush hour with an interval of 40 minutes, the first one at approximately 8:00 a.m. Moscow time (5:00 GMT). At least 35 people died and another 33 were injured in the attacks.
The source said that due to the terrorist attacks many people had suffered nervous breakdowns.
"Some 50 people turned to doctors for medical help," the source said adding that most of the claims were due to heart attacks and nervous breakdowns.
He said that these are people who were not direct victims during the attacks, but were witnesses of the explosions.
MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti)
Eyewitnesses describe 'panic' after metro explosions