Moscow blasts death toll rises to 37

The Department of Foreign Affairs is contacting Irish citizens in Moscow, warning them of the danger of further attacks, in the wake of two suicide bombings in the Russian capital.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is contacting Irish citizens in Moscow, warning them of the danger of further attacks, in the wake of two suicide bombings in the Russian capital.

In an email, officials are urging people to be extremely wary in all public places.

At least 37 people were killed and more than 25 injured when two female suicide bombers blew themselves up on subway trains during the morning rush-hour in Moscow, Russian officials said.

The first 23 victims were killed in an explosion on a train shortly before 8am at the Lubyanka station underneath the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the KGB’s successor.

The second explosion hit the Park Kultury station about 45 minutes later killing at least 12 people.

Around 40 more were injured in the blasts thought to have been organised by Chechen rebels.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said: “The first data that the FSB has given us is that there were two female suicide bombers.”

The blasts paralysed movement in the city centre as emergency vehicles sped to the stations.

In the Park Kultury blast, the bomber was wearing a belt packed with plastic explosive and set it off as the train’s doors opened.

Ludmila Famokatova, a newspaper seller outside the Lubyanka station, said there appeared to be no panic, but that many of the people who streamed out were distraught.

“One man was weeping, crossing himself, saying ’thank God I survived’,” she said.

“I heard a bang, turned my head and smoke was everywhere. People ran for the exits screaming,” said 24-year-old Alexander Vakulov, who said he was waiting on the platform opposite the targeted train at Park Kultury.

“I saw a dead person for the first time in my life,” said 19-year-old Valtin Popov, who also was standing on the opposite platform.

The last confirmed terrorist attack in Moscow was in August 2004, when a suicide bomber blew herself up outside a subway station, killing 10 people.

Responsibility for that blast was claimed by Chechen rebels and suspicion in today’s explosions is likely to focus on them and other separatist groups in the restive North Caucasus region.

Russian police have killed several Islamic militant leaders in the North Caucasus recently, including one last week in the Kabardino-Balkariya region. The killing of Anzor Astemirov was mourned by contributors to two al Qaida-affiliated websites.

The killings have raised fears of retaliatory strikes by the militants.

In February, Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov warned in an interview on a rebel-affiliated website that “the zone of military operations will be extended to the territory of Russia ... the war is coming to their cities.”

Umarov also claimed his fighters were responsible for the November bombing of the Nevsky Express passenger train that killed 26 people en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

The Moscow subway system is one of the world’s busiest, carrying around seven million passengers on an average working day, and is a key element in running the sprawling and traffic-choked city.

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