Moscow Metro bombings: Insecurity in Chechnya, N. Caucasus, comes to Moscow
Officials blamed today's twin Moscow Metro bombings, which struck near the FSB security service and a major state-run media outlet, on two female suicide bombers from the N. Caucasus.
Suicide bombers struck two stations in Moscow's crowded Metro less than an hour apart Monday morning, killing at least 37 people and injuring 73, and bringing Russia's seething northern Caucasus directly to the Kremlin's doorstep.Skip to next paragraph
The first bomb, equivalent to about four kilograms (8.8 pounds) of TNT, exploded at the height of morning rush hour and killed at least 25 people inside a train that had just pulled into the Lubyanka station, which is a two-minute walk from Red Square and located beside the headquarters of Russia's FSB security service, the former KGB. The second, smaller explosion, 45 minutes later on the same line, hit a train at Park Kultury, just across the street from a huge complex that houses the Kremlin news agency RIA-Novosti and the state-run English-language satellite network Russia Today.
An FSB spokesperson told journalists that "according to preliminary information, both blasts were carried out by female suicide bombers," who brought explosives onto crowded Metro carriages and set them off in what appears to have been a carefully planned and coordinated series of attacks.
Medvedev: what we have done before is not enough
President Dmitri Medvedev pledged to step up security in the Russian capital and to expand the security crackdown in the turbulent north Caucasus, which is the almost certain source of the threat.
"We will continue the operation against terrorists without hesitation and to the end," Mr. Medvedev said in televised remarks after the tragedy. "It is difficult to prevent such terrorist attacks and to provide security on transport," such as Moscow's sprawling and overcrowded Metro system, he said.
"It is necessary to tighten what we do, to look at the problem on a national scale, not only relating to a certain populated area but on a national scale. Obviously, what we have done before is not enough," he added.
Russian response quick, competent
Security experts offer cautious praise for Russian authorities who appear to have avoided mass panic with a quick and competent response that contrasts sharply with clumsy reactions to previous terrorist strikes in downtown Moscow early in the past decade. The areas were quickly cordoned off by police and thousands of shaken and frightened survivors evacuated from the stations – which are among the deepest in the city – in an orderly fashion, and helicopters were brought into the paralyzed city center to extricate the wounded.
"There is no mistaking the symbolism of the targets; first the security services and then the main center of state journalism," says Alexei Mukhin, director of the independent Center for Political Information in Moscow, whose own office is at Park Kultury. "The people who ordered these attacks were acting on a carefully thought-out plan."
Viktor Ilyukhin, deputy chair of the State Duma security committee, says the attacks are almost certainly the result of deteriorating security conditions in the northern Caucasus, Russia's mainly-Muslim southern flank where a growing extremist insurgency has been spreading, largely below the world's radar screen, for the past couple of years.