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St Petersburg metro blast suspect likely born in central Asia
April 4, 2017 / 2:47 AM / 6 months ago

St Petersburg metro blast suspect likely born in central Asia

General view of emergency services attending the scene outside Sennaya Ploshchad metro station, following explosions in two train carriages in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

BISHKEK/ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - A blast in a St Petersburg train carriage on Monday that killed 11 people and wounded 45 was probably carried out by a Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, authorities from the predominantly Muslim central Asian state said on Tuesday.

The explosion was a suspected suicide bombing by a perpetrator with ties to radical Islamists, Russia’s Interfax news agency cited a law enforcement source as saying late on Monday. A spokesman for the Kyrgyz GKNB security service identified the suspect as Akbarzhon Jalilov, born in the city of Osh in 1995, but provided no other details.

Russia has been on particular alert against attacks on its soil in reprisal for its military intervention in Syria, where Moscow’s forces have been supporting troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Islamic State group has repeatedly threatened revenge attacks.

If it is confirmed that the bomber was linked to radical Islmists, some sections of Russian society could see it as proof that Moscow’s decision to intervene in Syria has made civilians into targets.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic of six million, is a close political ally of Moscow and hosts a Russian military airbase.

Late on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the site of the blast, which made a huge hole in the side of a carriage and blew of the door, with metal wreckage strewn across the platform.

General view of emergency services attending the scene outside Sennaya Ploshchad metro station, following explosions in two train carriages in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

Passengers were seen hammering at the windows of one closed carriage after the train had pulled into the Sennaya Ploshad station at around 2:40 p.m. (1140 GMT).

Russian TV said many had suffered lacerations from glass shards and metal, the force of the explosion amplified by the confines of the carriage and the tunnel.

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St Petersburg television showed footage of the corpse of a bearded man they said was the perpetrator. The man resembled footage of a man captured on closed circuit television who Russian media said was a suspect.

Officials said they were treating the blast as an act of terrorism, but there was no official confirmation of any link to Islamist radicals.

The National Anti-Terrorist Committee said an explosive device had been found at another station, hidden in a fire extinguisher, but had been defused.

Authorities closed all St. Petersburg metro stations. The Moscow metro said it was taking unspecified additional security measures in case of an attack there.

The blast raised security fears beyond Russian frontiers. France, which has itself suffered a series of attacks, announced additional security measures in Paris.

Additional reporting by Svetlana Soprunova, Polina Nikolskaya, Sujata Rao, Alex Winning and Maria Tsvetkova, writing by Philippa Fletcher; editing by Christian Lowe

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