Russian officials: St. Petersburg blast was Islamic suicide attack

A suicide bomber with ties to Islamic terror groups is behind the St. Petersburg blast, Russian officials said. 

A suicide bomber was behind a blast on the St. Petersburg subway that killed 14 people, Russian investigators said Tuesday, while authorities in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan identified a suspect as a Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Monday afternoon attack, which came while President Vladimir Putin was visiting the city, Russia’s second biggest and Putin’s hometown.

Russia’s health minister on Tuesday raised the death toll from 11 to 14 and said 49 people are still hospitalized.

Residents have been bringing flowers to the stations near where the blast occurred. Every corner and window-sill at the ornate, Soviet-built Sennaya Square station on Tuesday was covered with red and white carnations.

Russia’s top investigative body said in a statement that investigators have identified a man whose body parts were found on the train and who is suspected to be a suicide bomber.

Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security identified one suspect as Kyrgyz-born Russian national Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, aged between 21 and 22.

The Interfax news agency on Monday said authorities believe the suspect was linked to radical Islamic groups and carried the explosive device onto the train in a backpack.

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The entire subway system in St. Petersburg, a city of five million, was shut down and evacuated before partial service resumed six hours later. Typically crowded during the rush hour, the subway on Tuesday morning looked almost deserted as many residents opted for buses.

Four stations on the subway were closed again Tuesday due to a bomb threat, but later reopened.

Patriach Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, led a service at Moscow’s main cathedral on Tuesday for those killed in the blast. “This terrorist act is a threat to all of us, all our nation,” he said quoted by the Interfax news agency.

In the past two decades, Russian trains and planes have been frequent targets of attack, usually blamed on Islamic terrorist. The last confirmed attack was in October 2015 when ISIS terrorists downed a Russian airliner heading from an Egyptian resort to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 people on board.

Separately, in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan, two policemen were killed in the early hours on Tuesday in a suspected Islamic terror attack.

By: AP