Two explosions hit the Moscow metro system March 29, reportedly killing 40 and injuring dozens more. All evidence so far indicates that these were intentional attacks that have targeted the heart of the city during peak morning rush hour.
Two explosions have so far been confirmed in Moscow’s Metro system, killing approximately 25 people at the Lubyanka metro station and reportedly 15 were killed at the Park Kultury station. Dozens more are being reported as injured. The first explosion allegedly occurred at 7:20 a.m. local time and the next one about 40 minutes later. All evidence so far indicates that these were intentional attacks that have targeted the heart — and symbolic locations — of the city during peak morning rush hour. The Lubyanka station is literally a stone's throw away from the Federal security Services headquarters — former KGB headquarters; the Park Kultury station is near the cultural center of Gorky Park in the city. There are still numerous conflicting reports as to how many explosions there were in all (there are rumors circulating that a third explosion occurred, but officials are denying this) and how they were detonated. Some reports indicate that suicide bombers carried out these attacks while others have indicated that the explosives were planted on the train and detonated remotely or by timer. Reports so far indicate that fires have been put out and the body count (so far) is actually fairly low considering the high concentration of people during peak morning rush hour time. So far, Chechen militants are the number one suspect, as they are suspected to have carried out suicide attacks on Moscow’s metro network before (the most recent being the 2004 attacks in which a suicide bomber killed 41 people near Paveletskaya station). To determine more precisely what happened and who was responsible for this attack, we are looking for these key clues that include: Evidence of shrapnel. The presence of objects such as nails, ball bearings or other, small iron scraps would indicate that the attackers were attempting to maim and kill as many as possible not necessarily by creating a big explosion, but by packing a smaller explosive device with shrapnel that would increase the killing capacity. Chechen suicide devices have typically contained metal shrapnel in the past. Type of explosive used. This will go a long ways toward telling us who was likely responsible for the attack. Chechens typically use TNT, or what is often referred to in Russia as “Tritonal.” The sex of the bomber (if a suicide bomber was involved). Chechen militants have frequently deployed female suicide bombers in the past, as they typically attract less scrutiny from security officers and have proven to successfully carry out suicide attacks. Finally, we are also watching carefully for any claims of attacks. There are a dozens of different Chechen militant groups who could claim this attack within the coming hours or days. These are sometimes dubious, however, as groups are opportunistic when it comes to claiming credit for attacks against Moscow. If the casualty numbers hold as accurate, the fact that they had such small number of deaths from these two attacks indicates that the devices may have been smaller than the device used in the February 2004 Moscow subway bombing. This might be in reaction to increased security measures, which would force militant operatives to reduce the size of the device or better conceal it –- both of which could affect the destruction wrought by the device. These types of incidents normally spawn a number of false and conflicting reports, so it will be critical to work hard to cut through the chatter and get to what really happened.