Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed a fierce response Monday after two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in twin attacks on Moscow subway stations, killing at least 37 people and wounding 102. Officials blamed the carnage on rebels from the Caucasus region.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement where he expressed Israel’s solidarity and sympathy with the Russian people.
“In the name of all of Israel, please receive our condolences to the families of the murdered and our wishes of full recovery to the wounded. We condemn the terror attacks which caused so much grief to innocent civilians."
“As a nation that is a target to terror attacks, Israel expresses its deep solidarity and companionship with the Russian people in its hour of grief; we stand united with all enlightened nations in the struggle against terrorism which threatens all of human society,” Netanyahu said.
a statement issued by the White House early Monday, the president said
the American people stand united with the people of Russia in
opposition to violent extremism and "heinous" terrorist attacks.
In a phone call to President Medvedev to offer condolences following the attacks, President Obama went on to say that "the United States was ready to cooperate with Russia to help bring to justice those who undertook this attack," the White House said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
The blasts come six years after Caucasus Islamic separatists carried out a pair of deadly Moscow subway strikes and raise concerns that the war has once again come to Russia's capital, amid militants' warnings of a renewed determination to push their fight.
Past bombings on the Moscow subway system
Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing late last year on a passenger train en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
Putin, who built much of his political capital by directing a fierce war with Chechen separatists a decade ago, vowed Monday that "terrorists will be destroyed."
The first explosion took place just before 8 a.m. at the Lubyanka station in central Moscow. The station is underneath the building that houses the main offices of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the KGB's main successor agency.
A second explosion hit the Park Kultury station about 45 minutes later.
"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 on a train on the platform opposite the targeted train at Park
"I saw a dead person for the first time in my life,"
said 19-year-old Valentin Popov, who had just arrived at the station
from the opposite direction.
The iconic Moscow subway system is
one of the world's busiest, carrying around 7 million passengers on an
average workday, and is a key element in running the sprawling and
Russian TV showed amateur video from inside
the Lubyanka station of wounded and possibly dead victims sitting and
lying on the floor. The train platform was filled with smoke.
both stations, passengers flooded out, many of them crying and making
frantic calls on their cell phones. The wounded were loaded into
ambulances and helicopters, some with their heads wrapped in bloody
bandages, as sirens wailed.
The last confirmed terrorist attack
in Moscow was in August 2004, when a suicide bomber blew herself up
outside a city subway station, killing 10 people. Responsibility for
that blast was claimed by Chechen rebels.
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 Web sites.
The killings have raised fears of retaliatory strikes by the militants.
February, Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov warned in an interview on a
rebel-affiliated Web site that "the zone of military operations will be
extended to the territory of Russia ... the war is coming to their
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.
Minister Sergei Shoigu said the toll was 37 killed and 102 injured, but
he did not give a breakdown of casualties at each station.
televised meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev, Federal Security
Service head Alexander Bortnikov said body fragments of the two bombers
pointed to a Caucasus connection. He did not elaborate.
"We will continue the fight against terrorism unswervingly and to the end," Medvedev said.
he nor Putin, who was on an official trip in Siberia, announced
specific measures and it was not clear if Russia has new strategies to
unleash in the Caucasus, where violent separatism has spread from
Chechnya into neighboring republics.
Although the Russian army
battered Chechen rebels in massive assaults a decade ago, the
separatists continue to move through the region's mountains and forests
with comparative ease and launch frequent small attacks.
York's transit system beefed up security as a precaution following the
Moscow bombings. A spokesman for New York's Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, Kevin Ortiz, said the agency has a "heightened security
presence," but declined further comment.
The agency is in charge of New York City buses and subways, as well as suburban trains, and bridges and tunnels.
The Moscow blasts practically paralyzed movement in the city center as emergency vehicles sped to the stations.
the Park Kultury blast, the bomber was wearing a belt packed with
plastic explosive and set it off as the train's doors opened, said
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia's top investigative body. The
woman has not been identified, he told reporters.
A woman who
sells newspapers outside the Lubyanka station, Ludmila Famokatova, 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.