Woman bomber kills 16 at Russia station

December 30, 2013 - 4:38:14 am

A combination image taken from CCTV footage shows a fire breaking out after an explosion (top) and smoke adrift later at a railway station in the Russian city of Volgograd, yesterday. A female suicide bomber blew herself up at the main train station, killing 16 people weeks ahead of the Winter Olympics in the Russian port city of Sochi. Qatar condemned the blast. 


MOSCOW: A female suicide bomber killed 16 people yesterday in a strike on the main train station of the southern Russian city of Volgograd that heightened security fears just six weeks before the Sochi Olympic Games.

Investigators said the unidentified woman set off her charge after being stopped by a police officer at the metal detectors of the central entrance to the station when it was packed with people travelling to celebrate the New Year.

Footage captured by a nearby camera showed a huge orange fireball blow out the heavy front doors and windows from the grey stone three-storey building. Thick billows of smoke then poured out as people scattered along the rain-soaked street.

Russia’s Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said officials had launched an inquiry into a suspected “act of terror”—the deadliest attack in Russia for almost three years.

“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.

Doctors and police said 16 people were killed and nearly 45 injured by the explosive equivalent of more than 10kg of TNT. 

The lifenews.ru website published 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.

The website identified the bomber as a woman named Oksana Aslanova who had been married to two different Islamists killed in battles with federal forces in the North Caucasus.

Female suicide bombers are often referred to in Russia as “black widows” — women who seek to avenge the deaths of their family members in the fighting by targeting Russian civilians.

The city of Volgograd — known as Stalingrad in the Soviet era — was already attacked in October by a female suicide bomber with links to Islamists in the nearby volatile North Caucasus.

The October 21 strike killed six people aboard a crowded bus and immediately raised security fears ahead of the February 7-23 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his personal reputation on the Games’ success, was “immediately” informed of the attack, the Kremlin said.

“Vladimir Putin ordered ministers and the heads of security agencies to take all measures necessary to establish the causes and circumstances of this act of terror, catching and bringing to justice those who stand behind it,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Militant attacks have become part of daily life in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus but the Volgograd blast will be a particular concern to the authorities as the bomber struck a city of over one million in the Russian heartland. 

Yesterday’s strike is Russia’s deadliest since a suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport killed 37 people in January 2011.

Russia’s interior ministry said separately that it was immediately stepping up security at all the nation’s main train stations and airports. “These measures involve a greater police presence and more detailed passenger checks,” an interior ministry spokesman told the Interfax news agency.

Female suicide bombers have repeatedly struck Russian targets during Putin’s 14-year rule. Umrarov dispatched two women to set off blasts at a pair of Moscow metro stations in March 2010 that killed more than 35 people.


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