Female suicide bomber kills 15 at Russian train station
Just in time for the Sochi Olympics, a female suicide bomber took 15 innocent Russians with her and wounded dozens more at a train station in the city of Volgograd.
A female suicide bomber killed 14 people Sunday when she blew herself up at the main train station in the southern city of Volgograd, raising concerns about security in Russia just six weeks before the Sochi Olympic Games.
The unidentified woman set off her charge after being stopped by a police officer at the metal detectors at the entrance to the station while it was packed with people travelling to celebrate the New Year, regional officials said.
Footage of the blast captured by a nearby camera showed a huge fireball blow out the front doors and a row of windows from the grey stone three-story building, before huge billows of smoke poured out as people scattered along the street.
Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said officials had launched an inquiry into a suspected "act of terror".
"A suicide bomber who was approaching a metal detector saw a law enforcement official and, after growing nervous, set off an explosive device," Markin said in televised comments.
Officials said at least 34 people were injured by the blast that had the explosive equivalent of more than 10 kilogrammes (16 pounds) of TNT. It was the deadliest attack in Russia for almost three years.
The police officer who spotted the woman died in the attack while several others who were stationed at the metal detectors were wounded by the blast.
State television said their actions prevented "hundreds" from being killed.
The lifenews.ru website meanwhile posted a picture of what it said was the head of the young female bomber lying amid a pile of debris with her long brown hair spread across the floor.
"It was a very powerful blast," train station store attendant Valentina Petrichenko told the Vesti 24 news channel.
"Some people started running and others were thrown back by the wave of the blast," she said. "It was very scary."
Volgograd Mayor Irina Guseva vowed on Vesti 24 television: "We will not allow panic to grip this city."
The region where the Olympics are to be held is right on the doorstep of a low intensity rebellion against Moscow by ethnic minorities, including the Chechens. The leader of rebels has vowed to kill civilians outside the Caucuses and disrupt the Olympics.
Russia does not have a stellar history of disrupting big terrorist attacks. The list of outrages is long, and includes the Beslan school massacre and the theater attack in Moscow. Both events were botched by authorities and resulted in hundreds of deaths. If anything, the Chechens have demonstrated a frightening ability to carry out attacks in high security areas.
That should give authorities pause when planning security for the Olympics.