Terrorism raised its face again…this time in Moscow…this time in the Moscow subways. And this time its face was female.
Russian investigators combing two subway stations attacked by female suicide bombers think Chechen rebels may have been behind the rush-hour strike that killed dozens of people.
“Our preliminary assessment is that this act of terror was committed by a terrorist group from the North Caucasus region,” Alexander Bortnikov of the Federal Security Service said of the investigation at one of the blast sites.
“We consider this the most likely scenario, based on investigations conducted at the site of the blast,” Bortnikov said. “Fragments of the suicide bombers’ body found at the blast, according to preliminary findings, indicate that the bombers were from the North Caucasus region.”
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the “terrorists” responsible for the Moscow subway attacks Monday “will be destroyed.”
“We are providing Moscow metro with additional CCTV cameras. Today’s events show we should not only continue this work but to make it more effective. Changes in legislation may be necessary.”
The two explosions that rocked the subway stations in central Moscow during rush hour killed at least 38 people and wounded more than 60 others, spawning widespread public outrage.
“It’s disgusting,” one witness said. “I don’t know who did it and what they wanted. Life is so short. How could people commit such terrible acts?”
No group has yet claimed responsibility for being behind the attacks.
But Russian security services believe the bombers are linked to militant groups in the North Caucasus region.
Past suicide bombings in the capital have been carried out by or blamed on Islamist rebels fighting for independence from Russia in Chechnya.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cut short a visit to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk and said a crime that was “terrible in its consequences and heinous in its manner” had been committed.
“I am confident that law enforcement bodies will spare no effort to track down and punish the criminals. Terrorists will be destroyed,” he added.
Meanwhile, New York officials have put subways there under a heightened security alert, Reuters reports:
In Washington, police sent bomb-sniffing dogs to random Metro stations and rail yards as part of heightened security associated with the Moscow attacks, in which two female suicide bombers killed at least 38 people on packed metro trains during rush hour on Monday.
Though the Moscow bombings appear related to the conflict in the North Caucasus and New York’s greatest threat is seen as coming from al Qaeda, police enacted the same security detail that they roll out after any attack elsewhere in the world.
This time it closely follows one man’s admission he was plotting a suicide bombing of New York subways with al Qaeda training.
“We don’t have any information suggesting that it’s related (to al Qaeda) but as a precaution we are increasing coverage,” police spokesman and Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said.
The city’s fleet of “critical response vehicles” that guard sensitive locations were sent to mass transit hubs such as Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, Browne said.
Officers patrolling the subways overnight were kept on duty as the morning shift reported, practically doubling the number of officers.
The city may also send a detective to Moscow, as it often does following similar attacks around the world, Browne said.
The New York Police Department has detectives in 11 foreign cities working to prevent foreign extremists from hitting New York, which has been attacked twice — on September 11, 2001, and in a 1993 truck bombing of the World Trade Center.
Here’s Russia today’s video on the bombing:
And here’s its video of the subway bombing’s aftermath:
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.