Subway shock grips Moscovites

Post carnage: People fear more rail attacks

Subway shock grips Moscovites

Kirill Gribov, 20, a university student, said he was on a train that arrived at the Park Kultury station just as the suicide bomber detonated her explosive belt on the train across the platform.

“The explosion was so loud that we all were deafened,” Gribov said. “Then I remember a cloud of gas coming from the wrecked train in front of us, coloured in pink, maybe because of blood. Some people were in panic, some stood still, but all of us somehow found our way outside the station. It was only at the street when I realised what had just happened. Mobile service was blocked, I couldn’t even call my parents, and I had to walk several kilometres because of the traffic.”

In the early part of the last decade, the subway system suffered several attacks related to the separatist war in Chechnya. With the explosions on Monday, Muscovites expressed renewed concerns that they might again become targets.
The earlier raft of attacks had repercussions far beyond the security situation in the Caucasus and rest of the country. In 2004, Vladimir Putin, the president at the time, responded by greatly tightening control over the government, saying that the country had to be united against terrorism. He pushed through laws that eliminated the election of regional governors, turning them into appointees of the president, and that made it harder for independents to be elected to Parliament.

Monday’s attack
Officials said the first explosion on Monday occurred at 7:50 am in second car of a train at the Lubyanka station, killing people on the platform and inside the train. The authorities closed off the station and the surrounding Lubyanka Square, formerly the site of the notorious Lubyanka prison, which was connected to the headquarters of the KGB.
About 40 minutes later the second attack took place, in the third car of a train at the Park Kultury station, officials said.

Yuri Syomin, the Moscow city prosecutor, said investigators believe that both explosions were set off by female suicide bombers wearing belts packed with explosives.
Crowds of people rushed to both stations in an effort to locate relatives, and cell phone networks became jammed. Streets in central Moscow were blocked with traffic as people avoided the subway system.

At Lubyanka, a dark-haired woman stood helplessly at a subway station exit and dialled her sister over and over. She said she had been dialling for two hours. Her sister — like her, a recent immigrant from neighbouring Kazakhstan — had left for her work at a laundry that morning and not been heard from since.

A middle-aged man, still searching for his wife, barked into a cell phone that the injured had been taken to the emergency room at Sklifosovsky Hospital.
Lyudmila Samokatova was stationed at her newspaper stand a few feet from the subway station around 8 am — the height of rush hour — when shaken passengers suddenly began to stream out of the station. One man, she said, was weeping and crossing himself, repeating, “Thank God, I’m alive.”

“I wanted to cry when I found out what happened,” Samokatova said.
Second upsurge

The attacks marked the second major upsurge in terrorism on the Russian transportation system in the last year. In November 2009, a bomb in a rural area derailed a luxury train travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg, killing 26 people.


Explosive past
When Moscow metro bled
Aug 31, 2004: Female suicide bomber blows herself up outside the Rizhskaya station, killing 10 people. A little-known Islamic group supporting Chechen rebels claims responsibility.
Feb 6, 2004: A suicide bomber from the North Caucasus sets off explosives during morning rush hour on a train travelling between the Avtozavodskaya and Paveletskaya stations, killing more than 40 people and wounding more than 100.
Feb 5, 2001: Explosives placed under a bench on the platform of the Belorusskaya station go off, wounding 15 people.
Jan 1, 1998: Homemade bomb explodes in vestibule of Tretyakovskaya station, wounding three people.
June 11, 1996: Homemade bomb explodes on train in tunnel between the Tulskaya and Nagatinskaya stations, killing four people.

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