St Petersburg metro bombing suspect 'from Kyrgyzstan'

St Petersburg metro bombing suspect 'from Kyrgyzstan'

A blast in a St Petersburg train carriage that killed at least 14 people and wounded 45 was probably carried out by a Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, authorities from the predominantly Muslim central Asian state said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s attack, which came while President Vladimir Putin was visiting the city, Russia’s second biggest and the president’s hometown.

On Tuesday, Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security said in a statement that one suspect behind the bombing is a Kyrgyz-born Russian national it identified as Akbarzhon Dzhalilov.

2013: Suicide bombers targeted a train station and a trolley bus in Volgograd. At least 34 killed.

2011: 37 people died in a suicide bombing at Moscow’s international airport. Chechen fighters claimed responsibility.

2010: Suicide bombers detonated bombs in the Moscow metro, killing 38. A Chechen group claimed the attack.

2009: At least 28 killed when a high-speed rail link between Moscow and St Petersburg was hit by a suicide attack. Chechen fighters were held responsible.

The Kyrgyz intelligence agency said Russian authorities informed them about the man, aged between 21 and 22, but they were not aware of his specific role in the bombing.

The intelligence agency said it is cooperating with Russian authorities to help the investigation.

Authorities neither in Russia nor Kyrgyzstan have specified whether the attack was a suicide bombing or if the bomber managed to escape.

The Interfax news agency on Monday said authorities believe the suspect was linked to “radical Islamic groups” and carried the explosive device onto the train in a backpack.

Amateur video broadcast by Russian TV showed people lying on the platform of the Technological Institute station, and others bleeding and weeping just after the train pulled in with a huge hole ripped in the side of one of the carriages. 

Within two hours of the blast, authorities had found and deactivated another bomb at another busy station, Vosstaniya Square, the anti-terror agency said. That station is a major transfer point for passengers on two lines and serves the railway station to Moscow.

Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from St Petersburg, said security services are investigating the suspect’s connection and origin of the attack.

“They are looking at known groups and the prime suspect at the moment is likely to be ISIL as they have threatened Russia since its involvement in the Syrian conflict,” he said.

“But ISIL is not the only organisation that Russia has been battling insurgency with. There is the restive caucasus region that this Central Asian suspect may have connection with.”

The city mourns

Residents laid flowers outside the city’s subway as the three days of mourning began on Tuesday.

Patriach Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, led a service at Moscow’s main cathedral for those killed in the blast.

“This terrorist act is a threat to all of us, all our nation,” he said quoted by the Interfax news agency.

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

The last confirmed attack was in October 2015 when ISIL fighters downed a Russian airliner heading from an Egyptian resort to St Petersburg, killing all 224 people on board.

Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers outside Tekhnologicheskiy Institut metro station [EPA]

Source: News agencies