Saturday 20 January 2018

St Petersburg suicide blast suspect named

A man at Tekhnologichesky Institut metro station in St Petersburg sits by a memorial for victims of the blast. Photo: Grigory Dukor/Reuters
A man at Tekhnologichesky Institut metro station in St Petersburg sits by a memorial for victims of the blast. Photo: Grigory Dukor/Reuters

Irina Titova

A 22-year-old suicide bomber born in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan was behind a blast on the St Petersburg subway that killed 14 people, Russian investigators have said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday's attack, which came while Russian president Vladimir Putin was visiting the city, the country's second-biggest and Mr Putin's hometown.

Russia's health minister yesterday raised the death toll from 11 to 14 and said 49 people were still in hospital. Authorities did not say whether the suicide attacker was included in the death toll.

City hall officials said there were several foreign nationals among those killed and injured.

Residents brought flowers to the stations near where the blast occurred. Every corner at the ornate, Soviet-built Sennaya Square station was covered with red and white carnations yesterday.

Russian investigators said the bomb was set off by a suicide bomber and identified him as Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, who turned 22 two days before the attack.

Kyrgyzstan-born Akbarzhon Dzhalilov. Photo: Reuters
Kyrgyzstan-born Akbarzhon Dzhalilov. Photo: Reuters

The investigative committee said that forensic experts also found the man's DNA on the bag with a bomb that was found and deactivated at another subway station in St Petersburg on Monday. Kyrgyzstan confirmed the man's identity and said it would help the Russian probe.

Authorities believe the suspect was linked to radical Islamic groups and carried the explosive device on to the train in a backpack, reports claim.

The entire subway system in St Petersburg, a city of five million, was shut down and evacuated before partial service resumed six hours later.

Monday's explosion occurred as the train travelled between stations on one of the city's north-south lines. The driver appeared in front of reporters yesterday, looking tired, but not visibly shaken by the events of the previous day.

Alexander Kavernin (50), who has worked on the subway for 14 years, said he heard the blast while his train was running, called security and carried on to the next station as the emergency instructions prescribe.

"I had no time to think about fear at that moment," he said.

The decision to keep moving was praised by authorities, who said it helped evacuation efforts and cut danger to passengers who would have had to walk along the electrified tracks.

In the past two decades, Russian trains and planes have been frequent targets of attack, usually blamed on Islamic militants.

Irish Independent

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