An explosion in the St. Petersburg Subway claimed lives of 14 people, while over 50 passengers were injured.
On April 3, about 3:00 pm, a terrorist attack occurred between Sennaya Square and the Institute of Technology in St. Petersburg – an improvised explosive device exploded in a metro coach. As it was found out later, the terrorist attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, who, apparently, also left another bomb, which was found and defused operativists at Vosstaniya Square. According to the latest data, 14 people were killed, while more than 50 passengers were injured.
The explosion at the second line of the St. Petersburg subway occurred at about 2:40 pm (data of eyewitnesses diverge within 10 minutes) in the third train carriage right after its departure from the Sennaya Square station. The machinist decided not to stop the train (later this decision was appreciated by the investigating committee as absolutely correct) and reached the Technological Institute station, where the victims started to get assistance and everyone, who were at the station, were evacuated. As eyewitnesses noted, at first, the station was in chaos and it was not clear what exactly had happened.
Immediately after the explosion, some passengers took other seats on the next line and continued their trip. The subway was closed later – at first, the Sennaya Square and Technological Institute stations and then the whole metro.
Initially, it was assumed that the bomb in the metro coach was also left, but specified data indicate that the explosion was carried out by a suicide bomber, and the device was fixed on his body. There still is no official information about how the terrorist acted. Probably, he could have left the bomb at the Vosstaniya Square station and then go to Sennaya Square.
According to the Kommersant newspaper, secret services knew about preparation of the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg, but did not have specific details of the plan. Probably, this may be connected with increased number of reports on closure of subway stations in St. Petersburg due to unowned objects in recent months.
The first data on an identity of the alleged terrorist appeared several hours after the terrorist attack. The Ren-TV television channel (and other media after it) showed a photo of a man with a beard in black clothes, similar to a Muslim one, and called him the probable suspect. However, according to the RBC information website, by the evening, this man himself came to police and said that he had nothing to do with the terrorist attack.
Later, another photo of a young man wearing glasses, a blue hat and a jacket with a fur collar, appeared. Media called him the suspect in a planting the bomb at the Vosstaniya Square station. Late on the evening of April 3, it was reported that this was a student from Kazakhstan Maxim Aryshev. However, Aryshev’s photos, obtained in social networks, show another person than a man, whose photo, taken by surveillance cameras, was distributed in media. Probably he could have been one of the victims of the terrorist attack.
In the morning of April 4, the Kazakh authorities denied information about possible involvement of this person in terrorist activities. At the same time, special services of Kyrgyzstan reported that a possible realizer of the terrorist attack may be a native of Osh, Akbarzhon Jalilov, born in 1995. He had Russian citizenship. The Gazeta information portal reported that it managed to find his photos in social networks. There still no other information about him.
Soon after the explosion, law enforcement agencies reported that a terrorist attack was the priority version, although others were not excluded. The case of the explosion was launched on the basis of an article on the terrorist acts. Officially, the investigation does not name any versions.
According to Kommersant, secret services were aware of the fact that terrorists of the Islamic State (IS) group were preparing the terrorist attack – they managed to find out this after the detention of a Russian returning from Syria. As the newspaper reported, he held the lowest level in the hierarchy of militants and knew little about the terrorist attack’s preparation, and the special services could not disclose the entire terrorist cell.
According to the Rosbalt news agency, two versions of the terrorist attack are currently under consideration. The first and the main version is activities of Caucasian jamaats, who settled in Turkey after they were knocked out of Russia. The second version is involvement of Ukrainian nationalists. Reportedly, the explosive device’s nature counts in its favor – allegedly, the bomb found at the Vosstaniya Square station was made of fused tritol. However, there are no other weighty arguments in favor of the second version.
No one terrorist organization has yet taken responsibility for the explosion in the St. Petersburg subway.
Reaction of the international community
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was in the city at the time of the incident in order to hold a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, commented on the explosion in the St. Petersburg subway.
According to Putin, the authorities will take all necessary measures to help the victims of the explosion and their families. He noted that had already received reports from heads of special services, including director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov. According to the Russian President, law enforcement agencies work to find out reasons for what happened, but so far all versions are considered.
“Law enforcement agencies and special services are working, they will do everything to find out reasons for what happened, give a full assessment of what happened,” Putin said.
Later, Putin laid flowers to the scene of the terrorist attack. The President appeared on the scene of the tragedy unexpectedly for those gathered there. He did not stay long there: Putin laid a bouquet of roses, standed for not long time and left the place. He was surrounded by bodyguards, however, people around him were not forbidden to shoot what was happening.
US President Donald Trump commented on the St Petersburg subway attack, describing it as “a terrible thing.”
“Happening all over the world,” the President said, “absolutely a terrible thing.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel extended condolences to Russia, denouncing the blast as a “barbaric act.”
“I have received news about explosions in St. Petersburg that resulted in deaths and injuries of so many people with horror. Everything points that it has been a cowardly attack. If it is confirmed, then it is a barbaric act, which I decisively condemn and whose masterminds should be identified and held accountable,” Germany’s government press service quoted Merkel’s telegram, sent to the Russian President.
French President Francois Hollande expressed solidarity and offered assistance to Russia and the Russian people in connection with the terrorist attack. “This tragic event reminds us of the need to maintain a constant vigilance,” Hollande said. “France is ready to respond to any request for assistance made by Russia,” he added.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May also condemned the terrorist atrocity in St Petersburg. “This was a horrific attack in St Petersburg. I’ve written to President Putin to give him my condolences and those of the British people for this absolutely appalling attack,” May said, speaking to ITV.
Meanwhile, in a reportage of the BBC TV-channel, a television channel’s correspondent claimed that the bomb, due to which the explosion occurred in the St. Petersburg subway, might have been planted there by a command of Putin in order to distract Russian people from the calls to start an anti-corruption investigation… The reportage was broadcasted on April 3.