MOSCOW - Friday’s bomb attack on a commuter train in southern Russia is aimed at destabilizing the situation in the country on the eve of parliamentary elections, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with top security officials Friday. “The criminals will get nothing out of this, as Russian citizens themselves will stop them,” the President stressed. He said the government and regional authorities would do all they can to help those who suffered in the attack. For their part, intelligence services and prosecutors will make every effort to solve this terrible crime.
According to Nikolai Patrushev, Director of the Federal Security Service, the terrorist attack on a commuter train in the Stavropol region was carried out by a group of four people, including three women and one man, Rossiya (Russia) television reports. Mr. Patrushev said two of the three women were in the second car of the train, and they jumped out before the explosion. One of the women was directing the operation, and she is unlikely to have survived the blast. Mr. Patrushev said the identity of the man from the terrorist group, whose body was found, was unlikely to be established. “He was a suicide bomber, because grenades were found on his legs,” the official said.
According to the latest information, 36 people died in the blast (31 people died on the spot, and five people died later in hospital). According to the Southern Federal District’s Department of the Russian Emergency Ministry, 148 people were hospitalized, including 16 people in grave condition.
The powerful explosion ripped the train car in two. A fire broke out in the car immediately. The train, which was traveling between the cities of Kislovodsk and Mineralnye Vody, was full of commuters. The bomb was filled with bolts and small metal parts designed to cause maximum casualties.
The blast occurred at 7:42 Moscow time on Friday. The train was close to the town of Yessentuki in the North Caucasus region near the war-wracked republic of Chechnya.