Sunday, December 29, 2013

Russia: Suicide Bomber Kills 16, Injures Dozens in Volgograd


According to The Christian Science Monitor, a suicide bomber detonated the equivalent of over 20 pounds of TNT near the entrance to a railway station in the central Russian city of Volgograd on Sunday (December 29), killing at least 16 people and injuring dozens.

Volgograd, formerly called Tsaritsyn and known as Stalingrad from 1925 to 1961, is an important industrial city with a population of 1.1 million. 

The blast, which blew out the front windows of the huge Stalin-era structure, was recorded by CCTV and rebroadcast by state-funded http://www.rt.com

In a press release, the Kremlin's Investigative Committee, Russia's top police organization, said that the bombing was "according to available evidence" the work of a female suicide bomber who triggered the IED (improvised explosive device) which was loaded with shrapnel as she approached the metal detectors near the station's entrance and became nervous when she spotted a police officer. 

According to the statement, the casualties might have been far greater if the bomber had succeeded in penetrating into the inner waiting area, which was crammed with New Year's travelers preparing to board trains home.

Volgograd, formerly called Tsaritsyn and known as Stalingrad from 1925 to 1961, is an important industrial city with a population of 1.1 million.

The blast, which blew out the front windows of the huge Stalin-era structure, was recorded by CCTV and rebroadcasted by state-funded http://www.rt.com.

In a press release, the Kremlin's Investigative Committee, Russia's top police organization, said that the bombing was "according to available evidence" the work of a female suicide bomber who triggered the IED (improvised explosive device) which was loaded with shrapnel as she approached the metal detectors near the station's entrance and became nervous when she spotted a police officer. 

According to the statement, the casualties might have been far greater if the bomber had succeeded in penetrating into the inner waiting area, which was crammed with New Year's travelers preparing to board trains. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, although the bomber was reportedly from Dagestan.

COMMENT: A similar bombing two months ago demolished a Volgograd city bus and killed six people and was also revealed to be the work of a female suicide bomber from Russia's insurgency-dominated southern province of Dagestan. 

Such women have been dubbed "black widows" because they often turn out to be family members of Islamist rebels killed by Russian security forces, recruited to stage revenge attacks on Russian targets.

IED attacks have killed thousands in several Russian cities over the past decade-and-a-half, but the approaching Sochi Winter Olympics have likely generated terror groups such as the Chechen Islamist warlord, Doku Umarov, to step up their attacks.

Although media reports suggest that Sochi, garrisoned with around 40,000 special police and protected by an array of high-tech security measures, as well as the capital city of Moscow, both perceived to be impregnable to terrorist infiltration, no target on Earth is immune if well-trained and experienced operatives are prepared and willing to give up their lives.

The bombing is bound to increase anxieties in the Kremlin, with the opening of the Sochi Games barely a month away and President Putin's prestige heavily invested in a successful outcome. Last week he ordered a major prison amnesty which effectively removed some of the deepest human rights controversies between Moscow and the West by freeing prisoners such as former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, two Pussy Riot women and 30 international Greenpeace activists who were being held for protesting at an Arctic drilling rig.  

Andrei Soldatov, editor of http://www.agentura.ru, an online journal that studies Russian security services, warns that the two Volgograd attacks in recent months demonstrate that terrorists from the turbulent north have the capacity to strike repeatedly at major Russian targets and achieve success.  

A bombing on a city bus two months ago in Volgograd killed six people, was also revealed to be the work of a female suicide bomber from Russia's insurgency-wracked southern province of Dagestan. Such women have been dubbed "black widows" because they often turn out to be family members of Islamist rebels killed by Russian security forces, recruited to stage revenge attacks on Russian targets.

IED attacks have killed thousands in several Russian cities over the past decade-and-a-half, but the approaching Sochi Winter Olympics have likely generated terror groups such as the Chechen Islamist warlord, Doku Umarov, to step up attacks. 

The bombing is bound to increase anxieties in the Kremlin, with the opening of the Sochi Games barely a month away and President Putin's prestige heavily invested in a successful outcome. Last week President Putin ordered a major prison amnesty which effectively removed some of the deepest human rights controversies between Moscow and the West by freeing prisoners such as former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, two Pussy Riot women and 30 international Greenpeace activists who were being held for protesting at an Arctic drilling rig. 

Andrei Soldatov, editor of http://www.agentura.ru, an online journal that studies Russian security services, warns that the two Volgograd attacks in recent months demonstrate that terrorists from the turbulent north have the capacity to strike repeatedly at major Russian targets and achieve success.

This report will be updated as new information is received.