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Russia: Bomb Attack on Train

2 MINS READNov 28, 2009 | 17:41 GMT
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images
On Nov. 28, Alexander Bortinikov, the chief of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), reported that an improvised explosive device (IED) derailed a train Nov. 27, killing as many as 40 people of 682 passengers and crew and injuring nearly 100. The heavily used Nevsky Express was derailed at approximately 9:30 p.m. local time as it traveled from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The homemade explosive device reportedly detonated as the ninth car of the 14-car train passed over it, causing four cars to derail and creating a 1.5-meter-wide (1.6 yards) crater. The train was further damaged when an electrical pole fell. According to Bortinikov, the attackers used approximately 15 pounds of explosives to derail the train in a remote area 250 miles north of Moscow. This attack is similar to one directed against the same train line on Aug. 13, 2007, in which 60 people were injured and none killed. That track attack, also in a remote area at approximately 9:30 p.m., used a homemade explosive device — albeit much smaller at only four pounds. According to Russian online newspaper Gazeta.Ru, ultra-nationalist group Combat 18 has claimed credit for the attack. Combat 18 in Russia is an affiliate of an international white supremacist organization that began in the United Kingdom and has branches in the United States, Europe and Russia. The group has also reportedly claimed an IED found Nov. 14 on the subway in St. Petersburg. However, various criminal elements have claimed false responsibility in Russia in the past and this cannot be discounted in the Combat 18 announcement. For example, there were many groups claiming false responsibility for the 2007 attack. The similarities between the Nov. 27 and the 2007 attacks suggest that the perpetrators could have been North Caucasus militant groups. In that case, we would expect Russian security forces to initiate another anti-militant crackdown in the North Caucasus and amongst the organized crime syndicates run by Chechens in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The timing of this latest attack could flare up already tense Muslim-Russian relations in Moscow, as Muslim militants are blamed for the death of a Russian Orthodox priest in Moscow on Nov. 19.

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