A Russia train station at Volgograd was rocked by an explosion detonated by a suicide bomber Sunday instantly killing 18 people and injuring 50 more. The explosion at Volgograd, 550 miles south of Moscow, was believed to be the work of a female suicide bomber according to Russia’s National Anti-Terror Committee.
President Vladimir Putin upon learning of the incident immediately ordered the emergency transfer of all the wounded to medical institutions in Moscow by special flights. According to the presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president gave specific orders to the Emergency Situations’ Ministry, the governor of Volgograd region and the Health Ministry to provide all necessary support to assists the victims of the explosion.
A video taken of the blast, in what appears to be the main entrance of the train station shows a huge bright orange fireball then followed by smokes coming out of the windows shattered by the explosion. As of this writing, no one claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. A police officer died on the spot and three others were wounded according to the Interior Ministry. After the smoke settled, several more lifeless bodies were placed on the pavement as a number of ambulances stood nearby.
Svetlana Demchenko, a local resident was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency as saying, “We heard a loud bang from behind, saw a bright flash and fell on the floor.” According to Vladimir Markin, a top police official said that the suicide bomber detonated the bombs in front of the metal detector at the main entrance of the train station.
The safe and successful conduct of the February 2014 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi, Russia became, again, an immediate concern for officials after this Sunday’s explosion. Volgograd is located 400 miles northeast of Sochi, a Black Sea resort beside the North Caucasus Mountains. Prior to this explosion, the government has already been on heightened alert by deploying soldiers, security personnel and police officers to protect the site of the Winter Olympics which is considered as Putin’s pet project.
The XXII Olympic Winter Games at Sochi will take place on February 6 to 23 next year. On July 4, 2007, Sochi was selected as the host city edging out Salzburg, Austria and Pyeongchang, South Korea during the 119th IOC Session at Guatemala City.
Russia for the past few years has been rocked by a series of explosions targeting civilians in trains, buses and airplanes carried out by suicide bombers. The attacks are linked to Islamic rebels hiding in the North Caucasus region. Last Friday alone, three people died when explosives blew up on a street in Pyatigorsk. The said area is home to a federal administrative district meant to help stabilize the North Caucasus region.
Last October also in Volgograd, six people were killed and about 30 were injured when another female suicide bomber detonated bombs while aboard a city bus. Initial investigations revealed that the suicide bomber came from the province of Dagestan, North Caucasus and considered as the center of Islamist rebellion in the region.
In July, Umarov, the alleged leader of the rebels urged his men to “do their utmost to derail” the holding of the Sochi Winter Olympics because the event is seen as “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors.” With this recent Russia train station explosion leaving 18 dead and 50 injured, violence is expected to rise, especially with the Winter Olympics ready to start.
By Roberto I. Belda