Russia terror attack kills six, wounds dozens in North Caucasus
A bomb disguised as a pack of juice exploded Wednesday evening in the southern Russian city of Stavropol, killing at least 7 and wounding more than 40. Investigators have opened a case under terrorism laws.
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Authorities said a remote or timer-controlled bomb went off outside the House of Culture and Sport, near the city center, shortly before the start of a concert by a dance company linked with Kremlin-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. Stavropol is the administrative seat of the ethnically Russian Stavropol Territory, which borders the embattled, mainly Muslim republics of Chechen and Dagestan republics (map).
Authorities say the explosion was equivalent to about a pound of TNT, reports RIA Novosti. Reuters reports that the bomb was equivalent to 400 grams of TNT, and disguised as a pack of juice. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, but police found an improvised explosive device, a gun, and ammunition while searching the homes of two suspects.
Investigators opened a criminal case under terrorism laws, the prosecutor general's office said in a statement.
The explosive used in the attack appeared to be homemade, reports Russian video news outlet RT, and was packed with shrapnel. A 12-year-old girl was among those killed.
"About 15-20 minutes before the start of the concert we heard an explosion. We saw the blast had practically flung aside the crowd that had gathered outside ... about 100-150 people," Rustam, an eyewitness, told Ekho Moskvy radio, according to Reuters.
The city has rarely been the target of terror strikes. RT quoted Nikolay Petrov from the Carnegie Moscow Center as saying the attack signals spreading terror in the region. The city is 150 miles from Sochi, planned site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, where Putin has staked $17 billion of the state's money and his own personal prestige on the upcoming Olympic Games.
Many are worried that the unrest in the Caucasus could disrupt the Games.
"This is very alarming," political scientist Olga Kryshtanovskaya told the Christian Science Monitor after March bombings in Dagestan. "We're facing an enemy that wants to destabilize the situation for political purposes. Russia's prestige is at stake here. And if we can't cope with terrorists in our own capital city, how can we hope to prevent them from disrupting a big international event like the Olympics?"