A massive explosion tore through a packed commuter train in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday, killing 14 people, wounding over 50 more, and raising immediate fears that the country — which has lost hundreds of people to Islamist terror attacks in recent years — may have just been hit again.
On Tuesday morning the Kyrgyz government identified what is now considered a suspected suicide bomber in the attack: Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, a Russian citizen born in Kyrgysztan in 1995. It was still unclear to authorities if the attacker had worked alone or in concert with others, or if he was acting on behalf of a group.
While on Monday Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was in St. Petersburg at the time of the explosion, refrained from using the word terror, the blast is now being called a “terrorist act” by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Erlan Abyldaev, the Kyrgyz Foreign Minister, told press there was no clear reason offered for the attack. “Regarding the link with Islamic radicalism, we have to wait to know more until the investigation yields its full results," Abyldaev said at a press conference on Tuesday. Kyrgysztan is a Muslim-majority nation of some six million citizens, including a large minority of Chechens. There was a great deal of speculation as to possible motives for the attack, but nothing concrete.
The incident, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told press “once again shows the importance of stepping up joint efforts to combat this evil."
The train’s driver, Alexander Kaverin, was widely praised for a cool head, and quick action that authorities confirmed reduced the number of fatalities. “I just followed the procedure. You will know that this isn't the first terrorist act that we've had, there've been explosions before, so smart people came up with smart procedures,” he told reporters.
Here’s a guide to what we know about the incident so far.
What we know
- At around 2 pm Monday local time, an explosion tore apart a train as it traveled between two metro stations in the city center, Sennaya Square and the Institute of Technology.
- At least 14 people were killed, according to Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova, and over 50 people have been injured.
- Initially, it was reported that there were two separate blasts, but a Russian official confirmed that there was only one, according to the BBC.
- Soon after the explosion, another bomb was found and deactivated at a different St. Petersburg subway station, according to the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee. The homemade explosive device was found at a station approximately two miles away from the Institute of Technology.
- The entire St. Petersburg subway system was shut down, and subway officials said they would start introducing extra security measures as a result.
- Emergency crews responded soon after the explosion, with the spokesperson for the governor’s office tweeting that 41 ambulances were on scene and the BBC sharing images of a helicopter being used in rescue efforts.
- The city of St. Petersburg will now observe three official days of mourning for those lost.
Images shared online after the explosion show the extent of the destruction of the subway car and the victims in the station: