A Chechen suicide bomber killed 16 Russians in Volgograd, a southern city in Russia. The explosion took place in a train station right outside a metal detector placed in front of the station entrance. Along with those killed, 30 were taken to the hospital with grave injuries. One of the dead victims was a police officer. Many more people would have been killed had the bomber gotten past the security device.
In October, another bomber blew up a passenger bus. Six Russians were killed in an explosion that wounded more than 30 others. Russian media reported that a female Islamist suicide bomber from the Russian region of Dagestan was responsible for the attack.
The Russian city of Volgograd is 560 miles southeast of Moscow and 620 miles from Sochi, where the Winter Olympics will be held in about six weeks. The bombings come after Chechen leader Doku Umarov called for renewed attacks against Russian civilian targets, including the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said “such barbarous attacks” could not be justified. He also stated that NATO and Russia would “stand together in the fight against terrorism … to prevent attacks on public transport systems.”
In October a female suicide bomber killed six passengers and herself on a city bus. She was from a mainly Muslim region, and she got off of a bus going to the Russian capital about an hour before she blew herself up.
Chechnya is located in the southern region as well, and is experiencing restless rebel activity. It is called the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, and it has been fighting against Russians supremacy since the mid-90’s. Chechens have utilized violent actions in their struggle for independence from Russia, similar to this latest incident in Volgograd, where a suicide bomber has killed 16 Russian citizens at the train station.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the situation by expressing condolences to those victims and their families, and wishing those injured a speedy recovery. Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev called for all assistance and aid be brought to bear from the ministries of emergency and health.
There are now increased concerns for the safety of those who will be participating and visiting the Winter Olympics, to be held in Sochi within the next two months. The Russian government will have to deploy extra security for the prevention of terrorist attacks in the Olympic Village and beyond.
The suspected bomber is reportedly female, and from the Republic of Dagestan. She apparently detonated a bomb filled with shrapnel, which caused more injuries than a normal incendiary device.
The station was crowded with travelers making their way to holiday destinations for the New Year. The policeman who was killed apparently was approaching the terrorist, as she looked suspicious standing near the entrance.
The city of Volgograd, once named Stalingrad, has a history of mistreating Chechen people, especially during World War II. Thousands of Chechen citizens were deported to Central Asia because of Russian suspicion that they were allied with Nazi Germany. Many died on the way to Asia, and most were treated as enemies.
In the aftermath of a Chechen suicide bomber killing 16 people, and injuring dozens of travelers, Russia will have to rethink its security and surveillance of further terrorist activities. The Winter Olympics will need to be protected from such actions.
By Lisa M Pickering