Volgograd blasts: Second suicide bomb hits Russia city

The blast took place at a busy time on a busy route, as Daniel Sandford explains

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At least 14 people have been killed in a suicide bombing on a trolleybus in the Russian city of Volgograd, investigators say.

The blast comes a day after 17 people died in another suicide attack at the central station in the city.

Security has been tightened at railway stations and airports across Russia.

Moscow is concerned that militants could be ramping up violence in the run-up to the 2014 winter Olympic Games in the city of Sochi in February.

The Olympics venue is close to Russia's volatile north Caucasus region, and the BBC's Moscow correspondent Daniel Sandford says it was always risky staging the Games so near to the troubled republics of Chechnya and Dagestan.

Analysis

For most Russians, these attacks came as a huge shock. Despite public assurances that the troubles in the Caucasus were coming under control, clashes between extremists and government troops, and some small-scale attacks, have continued.

More disturbingly, extremism has recently started to flare up further north, in some of Russia's central regions, much closer to Volgograd.

This industrial and transport hub is of huge symbolic importance to most Russians. The attacks there, just weeks before the opening of the Winter Olympics, have created unease across Russia. Many are now asking why the country's powerful security services failed to stop the bombers, accusing them of complacency and unprofessionalism.

The threat to the games in Sochi may not be so great: there are hundreds of police officers and military personnel deployed around the area. But the fear is that the bombers may strike elsewhere.

These bombs have been a brutal reminder of that, he says.

In a statement, Russia's foreign ministry did not blame any particular group but called for international solidarity in the fight against "an insidious enemy that can only be defeated together".

Regional Governor Sergei Bozhenov said the bombings were a "serious test" for all Volgograd residents and all Russians.

The president of the International Olympic Committee has expressed full confidence that Russian authorities will deliver "safe and secure" Games in Sochi.

Busy market

The latest explosion took place near a busy market in Volgograd's Dzerzhinsky district.

Maksim Akhmetov, a Russian TV reporter who was at the scene of the blast, said the trolleybus was packed with people going to work in the morning rush hour.

He described the scene as "terrible", adding that the bus was "ravaged" and that there were "bodies everywhere, blood on the snow".

Military vehicles surround the wreckage of a trolleybus in Volgograd Witnesses described a scene of carnage following the blast
Police officers with a sniffer dog examine territory around the site of a trolleybus explosion in Volgograd, Russia, Monday, Dec 30, 2013. Police cordoned off the site of the explosion as they looked for clues
Screen grab of the moment the blast struck Volgograd-1 station, Russia, 29 December 2013 The explosion was the second in the city in 24 hours. A blast hit a train station on Sunday.
Rescue workers outside bomb-hit Volgograd-1 train station, Russia, 29 December 2013 Sunday's explosion blew out many windows, and sent debris down the station steps

The figures given for the number of dead and injured are still fluctuating, but investigators and the Russian health ministry told a news conference that 14 people had been killed.

At least 20 others were injured, and Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said the patients were in "a bad condition with burns, with multiple injuries typical of blast-induced wounds".

She said the injured include a pregnant woman, two 16 year olds and a baby aged about six months whose parents are assumed dead.

Volgograd

The Motherland Calls
  • Struck by suspected suicide bombers three times in two months
  • Formerly known as Stalingrad, it was the scene of the bloodiest battle in World War II and has a deep symbolism for Russia
  • One of the biggest cities near the troubled North Caucasus region
  • A main transport hub between Moscow and Southern Russia

The regional governor has announced five days of mourning for all the victims.

The force of the explosion removed much of the bus's exterior and broke windows in nearby buildings.

"It is now possible to preliminarily say that the explosive device was set off by a suicide bomber - a man whose body fragments have been collected and sent for genetic testing," the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said identical explosives were used in the two bombings, suggesting they were linked.

City in shock

In response to this second blast in less than 24 hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered security measures to be tightened across Russia and in particular in Volgograd.

Local resident Polina Goncharova said the whole city was in shock.

"This is the first time in my life that I have experienced anything like this. I have been crying since I heard about the first bombing, and now the second one today," she told the BBC.

"There are very few people on the streets. I am staying at home myself as I'm worried there will be more attacks."

map

The first blast rocked Volgograd-1 station at around 12:45 (08:45 GMT) on Sunday, at a time of year when millions of Russians are travelling to celebrate the New Year.

Investigative Committee spokesman: "Bomb technicians are working at the scene"

No group has yet said it was behind the blast.

Volgograd was also targeted in October, when a suspected female suicide bomber killed six people in an attack on a bus.

An Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus region has led to many attacks there in recent years.

Insurgents have also attacked major Russian towns.

Volgograd lies about 900km (560 miles) south of Moscow, 650km north of the North Caucasus and 700km north-east of Sochi.

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