The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has cracked down a terrorist cell linked to ISIS in the city of Saint Petersburg. The cell was planning a series of weekend bombings the city, with the iconic Kazan Cathedral among the targets.
According to the FSB statement, the attacks were planned to involve “a suicide bomber blowing up inside a religious facility and the murder of civilians with improvised explosive devises in places of mass gatherings.”
The suspects were detined overnight from December 13 to December 14. Security forces seized “a large amount of explosive materials, elements of IEDs, automatic arms, ammunition and extremist literature” and dismantled a bomb-making workshop. The statement added that the cell was coordinating its plans with ISIS masterminds via a Telegram messenger.
The Russian state-run TV network RT reports (source):
A suspected terrorist told the court that he was planning an attack on the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, the united press service of St. Petersburg courts said in a statement. 18-year-old Evgeny Efimov was making improvised explosive devices in a rented garage, until the owner of the property reported his activity to the police.
Efimov, who is accused of illegal production of explosives, will remain in custody until at least February 13, the court ruled. The Kazan Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in St. Petersburg, as well as one of its largest Orthodox churches. It was built between 1801 and 1811.
Earlier this week, FSB head Aleksandr Bortnikov reported foiling a terrorist plot which would have involved bombings during the New Year celebration and upcoming presidential election campaign. The schemes also involved a cell with links to IS.