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Female suicide bomber kills 16 at Russian train station Putin orders tighter security after 2nd blast in 3 days

VOLGOGRAD, Russia, Dec 29, (RTRS): A female suicide bomber detonated explosives in the entrance hall of a Russian train station on Sunday, investigators said, killing at least 16 people in the second deadly attack within three days as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympics. The attacker detonated a shrapnel-filled bomb in front of a metal detector just inside the main entrance of the station in Volgograd, a busy hub north of the violence-plagued North Caucasus region on Russia’s southern fringe. Islamist militants in the North Caucasus have carried out a long string of attacks since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000. They now confront him with his biggest security challenge, threatening to disryupt the Olympics that start in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in 40 days. Footage shown on TV captured the moment of the blast, as a massive orange fireball filled the hall of the stately, colonnaded station and clouds of grey smoke poured out of shattered windows.

The station — a Stalinesque architectural monument with a clocktower and spire topped by a Soviet-style star — was busier than usual, with people travelling home for New Year holidays. “People were lying on the ground, screaming and calling for help,” a witness, Alexander Koblyakov, told Rossiya-24 TV. “I helped carry out a police officer whose head and face were covered in blood. He couldn’t speak.” The city once bore the name Stalingrad in honour of communist dictator Josef Stalin, a figure held in opprobrium by many in the northern Caucasus area. In the 1940s, Stalin ordered the deportation of tens of thousands of people from the region, including Chechens, to Central Asia on suspicion of harbouring sympathies for Nazi Germany. Many thousands died in exile and transport.

The federal Investigative Committee and other officials said the bomber was a woman who blew herself up after a police officer started to approach her near the metal detector because she looked suspicious. ARussian website with ties to security agencies, Life News, posted a picture of what it said was the suspect’s head. It said authorities had identified her as a resident of Dagestan, the province adjacent to Chechnya and now the centre of a long-running Islamist insurgency. Interfax news agency cited two unidentified law enforcement sources as saying authorities believed the attacker was a man who carried a bomb into the station with a rucksack. Life News said officials believed the attacker may have been accompanied by a man with a rucksack and another woman. Putin ordered law enforcement agencies to take all necessary precautions to ensure security, his spokesman said. A federal police spokesman said measures would be tightened at stations and airports, with more officers on duty and stricter security checks.

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