16 Killed by Suicide Bomber in Russia - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

16 Killed by Suicide Bomber in Russia as Nation Prepares for Olympics

Posted: Updated:

MOSCOW (AP) - A suicide bomber struck a busy railway station in southern Russia on Sunday, killing at least 15 other people and wounding scores more, officials said, in a stark reminder of the threat Russia is facing as it prepares to host February's Olympics in Sochi.
    
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in Volgograd, but it came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov called for new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Sochi Games.
    
Suicide bombings have rocked Russia for years, but many have been contained to the North Caucasus, the center of an insurgency seeking an Islamist state in the region. Until recently Volgograd was not a typical target, but the city formerly known as Stalingrad has now been struck twice in two months - suggesting militants may be using the transportation hub as a renewed way of showing their reach outside their restive region.
    
Volgograd, which lies close to volatile Caucasus provinces, is 900 kilometers (550 miles) south of Moscow and about 650 kilometers (400 miles) northeast of Sochi, a Black Sea resort flanked by the North Caucasus Mountains.
    
The bombing highlights the daunting security challenge Russia will face in fulfilling its pledge to make the Sochi Games the "safest Olympics in history." The government has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers, police and other security personnel to protect the games.
    
Through the day, officials issued conflicting statements on casualties. They also said that the suspected bomber was a woman, but then reversed themselves and said the attacker could have been a man.
    
The Interfax news agency quoted unidentified law enforcement agents as saying that footage taken by surveillance cameras indicated that the bomber was a man. It also reported that it was further proven by a torn male finger ringed by a safety pin removed from a hand grenade, which was found on the site of the explosion.
    
The bomber detonated explosives in front of a metal detector just beyond the station's main entrance when a police sergeant became suspicious and rushed forward to check ID, officials said. The officer was killed by the blast, and several other policemen were wounded.
    
"When the suicide bomber saw a policeman near a metal detector, she became nervous and set off her explosive device," Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the nation's top investigative agency, said in a statement earlier in the day. He added that the bomb contained about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of TNT and was rigged with shrapnel.
    
Markin later told Interfax that the attacker could have been a man, but added that the investigation was still ongoing. He said that another hand grenade, which didn't explode, was also found on the explosion site.
    
Markin argued that security controls prevented a far greater number of casualties at the station, which was packed with people at a time when several trains were delayed. About 40 were hospitalized, many in grave condition.
    
Earlier, Lifenews.ru, a Russian news portal that reportedly has close links to security agencies, even posted what it claimed was an image of the severed head of the female's attacker. It even said the attacker appeared to have been a woman whose two successive rebel husbands had been killed by Russian security forces in the Caucasus.
    
Female suicide bombers, many of whom were widows or sisters of rebels, have mounted numerous attacks in Russia. They often have been referred to as "black widows."
    
In October, a female suicide bomber blew herself up on a city bus in Volgograd, killing six people and injuring about 30.  Officials said that attacker came from the province of Dagestan, which has become the center of the Islamist insurgency that has spread across the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya.
    
As in Sunday's blast, her bomb was rigged with shrapnel that caused severe injuries.
    
Chechnya has become more stable under the grip of its Moscow-backed strongman, who incorporated many of the former rebels into his feared security force. But in Dagestan, the province between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, Islamic insurgents who declared an intention to carve out an Islamic state in the region mount near daily attacks on police and other officials.
    
Rights groups say that authorities' tough response involving arbitrary arrests, torture and killings of terror suspects has fueled the rebellion.
    
The Kremlin replaced Dagestan's provincial chief earlier this year, and the new leader abandoned his predecessor's attempts at reconciliation and his efforts to persuade some of the rebels to surrender in exchange for amnesty.
    
Security camera images broadcast by Rossiya 24 television showed Sunday's moment of explosion, a bright orange flash inside the station behind the massive main gate followed by plumes of smoke.
    
"All the doors, windows scattered. I got a concussion and smoke billowed from inside.
    
Another witness, Roman Lobachev, told Rossiya television that he was putting his bags on a belt for screening when he heard the sound of an explosion. "I heard a bang and felt as if something hit me on the head," said Lobachev who survived the attack with minor injuries.
    
The bombing followed Friday's explosion in the city of Pyatigorsk in southern Russian, where a car rigged with explosives blew up on a street, killing three.
    
Following Sunday's explosion, the Interior Ministry ordered police to beef up patrols at railway stations and other transport facilities across Russia.
    
Russia in past years has seen a series of terror attacks on buses, trains and airplanes, some carried out by suicide bombers.
    
Twin bombings on the Moscow subway in March 2010 by female suicide bombers killed 40 people and wounded more than 120. In January 2011, a male suicide bomber struck Moscow's Domodedovo Airport, killing 37 people and injuring more than 180.
    
Umarov, who had claimed responsibility for the 2010 and 2011 bombings, ordered a halt to attacks on civilian targets during the mass street protests against President Vladimir Putin in the winter of 2011-12. He reversed that order in July, urging his men to "do their utmost to derail" the Sochi Olympics which he described as "satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors."
    
A group calling itself Anonymous Caucasus said in a statement Friday on the Caucasus rebel web site, kavkazcenter.com, that it would launch cyber-attacks to avenge Russia's refusal to acknowledge the 19th-century expulsion of Chirkassians, one of the ethnic groups in the Caucasus.
    
The International Olympics Committee expressed its condolences over the bombing, but said it was confident of Russia's security preparation for the games.
    
"At the Olympics, security is the responsibility of the local authorities, and we have no doubt that the Russian authorities will be up to the task," it said in a statement.
    
Russian authorities have introduced some of the most extensive identity checks and sweeping security measures ever seen at an international sports event.
    
Anyone wanting to attend the games that open on Feb. 7 will have to buy a ticket online from the organizers and obtain a "spectator pass" for access. Doing so will require providing passport details and contacts that will allow the authorities to screen all visitors and check their identities upon arrival.
    
The security zone created around Sochi stretches approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) along the Black Sea coast and up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) inland. Russian forces include special troops to patrol the forested mountains towering over the resort, drones to keep constant watch over Olympic facilities and speed boats to patrol the coast.
    
The security plan includes a ban on cars from outside the zone from a month before the games begin until a month after they end.
    
In Washington, the State Department condemned the bombing and said the U.S. stands "in solidarity with the Russian people."
    
____
    
Associated Press writer Steve Wilson in London contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Tri-CitiesTri-Cities NewsMore>>

  • Dogs can catch the human flu

    Dogs can catch the human flu

    Saturday, January 20 2018 10:10 PM EST2018-01-21 03:10:54 GMT
    HEALTH ALERT-   Flu season is upon us and even when you're careful there's one thing you may not have thought carried the flu virus According to Veterinarians dogs can catch the human flu. They may not experience symptoms but they can spread it to other dogs and humans.  Unfortunately, there is currently no way to test if your dog is contagious.  But if someone has the flu they says its important that they be mindful of taking their dogs out and about such as to...More >>
    HEALTH ALERT-   Flu season is upon us and even when you're careful there's one thing you may not have thought carried the flu virus According to Veterinarians dogs can catch the human flu. They may not experience symptoms but they can spread it to other dogs and humans.  Unfortunately, there is currently no way to test if your dog is contagious.  But if someone has the flu they says its important that they be mindful of taking their dogs out and about such as to...More >>
  • Inmate found dead in cell at Benton County Jail

    Inmate found dead in cell at Benton County Jail

    Saturday, January 20 2018 10:06 PM EST2018-01-21 03:06:15 GMT
    Kennewick Man Sentenced to Thirty Years Imprisonment for Production of Child PornographyKennewick Man Sentenced to Thirty Years Imprisonment for Production of Child Pornography
    KENNEWICK- The Benton County Sheriff's Office and the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) are currently investigating the death of an inmate on Saturday morning.  On Thursday at 7:30 p.m. the Richland Police Department arrived at the jail following the arrest of a 28-year-old male for Possession of Methamphetamine and an outstanding Kennewick warrant for theft. Upon completing the booking process, which includes a medical, mental health, and suicidal screening, no indications ...More >>
    KENNEWICK- The Benton County Sheriff's Office and the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) are currently investigating the death of an inmate on Saturday morning.  On Thursday at 7:30 p.m. the Richland Police Department arrived at the jail following the arrest of a 28-year-old male for Possession of Methamphetamine and an outstanding Kennewick warrant for theft. Upon completing the booking process, which includes a medical, mental health, and suicidal screening, no indications ...More >>
  • Polar Plunge raises thousands of dollars for Special Olympics

    Polar Plunge raises thousands of dollars for Special Olympics

    Saturday, January 20 2018 8:04 PM EST2018-01-21 01:04:52 GMT
    RICHLAND, WA.-- On Saturday, dozens of people braved the icy Columbia for 12th Annual Polar Plunge, which raises money for the Special Olympics. This year, the event was held at the Columbia Park Marina, and 292 people decided to make a splash! If you thought that number was big, how about this: as of this morning, the event raised over $55,000, which will help the 17,500 Special Olympics athletes across the state of Washington.  If you didn't get a chance to head out to t...More >>
    RICHLAND, WA.-- On Saturday, dozens of people braved the icy Columbia for 12th Annual Polar Plunge, which raises money for the Special Olympics. This year, the event was held at the Columbia Park Marina, and 292 people decided to make a splash! If you thought that number was big, how about this: as of this morning, the event raised over $55,000, which will help the 17,500 Special Olympics athletes across the state of Washington.  If you didn't get a chance to head out to t...More >>