At least nine people were killed and 47 more injured in a bomb blast Monday afternoon in the St. Petersburg subway, according to Russia’s health minister. Authorities are investigating the explosion as a terrorist attack, and search warrants have been issued for two suspects according to Interfax.
The attack happened between two of the busiest metro stations in Russia’s second-biggest city, with images and video posted to social media showing a mangled carriage with its doors blown off. Russia’s Anti-Terrorist Committee said a second device was found in a nearby metro station, but authorities were able to defuse it before it went off, according to the Associated Press.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin was careful not to label the attack a terrorist incident earlier in the day, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev didn’t hold back. “All those who were injured in the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg metro will receive all the medical help they need,” he said on Facebook.
Putin, who was in the city at the time, spoke shortly after the explosion, offering “condolences to the families of the victims and the injured.”
The explosion in St. Petersburg comes just months after Russian authorities arrested five people suspected of links to the Islamic State militant group over plots to attack Moscow and Russia’s Caucasus region.
Russian media network Interfax reported that the metro’s security camera footage may have captured pictures of a suspect involved in Monday’s explosion. No group or organization has thus far claimed responsibility.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The National Anti-Terrorist Committee said that the blast, which happened at 2:45 p.m. local time, was caused by an unidentified explosive device in one of the cars as it traveled between Sennaya Ploschad and Tekhnologichesky Institut stations. Authorities evacuated the metro system and closed it completely.
- “So far, we say it was an unidentified explosive device as investigators and the Federal Security Service’s bomb specialists are to establish the exact cause of this explosion,” Andrei Przhezdomsky told the state-run Russia 24.
- A second device was disabled after being found at the Ploshchad Vosstaniya metro station in central St. Petersburg, just two miles from the Tekhnologichesky Institut station. The National Anti-Terrorist Committee said an “improvised explosive device has been discovered and disabled in a timely manner.”
- The focus will now turn to identifying who was behind the attack. In November 2015, ISIS called for Russia attacks, stating, “Europe is shaking, Russia is dying. The Kremlin will be ours.” Last November, Russia’s intelligence service arrested five ISIS members suspected of plotting an attack on Moscow.
- Russia is supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in his fight against ISIS with airstrikes against militant positions in the country. ISIS also claimed responsibility for an attack on Metrojet Flight 9268 over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 2015 as it travelled from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 people on board.
- Russian federal security services estimate that about 2,500 Russian nationals have joined the group’s ranks since 2015. As a result, Russian, Chechen, and Dagestani fighters rank among ISIS’s top militants.
This story is developing.