On Wednesday evening, an explosion occurred at a branch of the Perekrestok supermarket chain in St. Petersburg. The Russian Investigative Committee reported that, according to preliminary data, the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device packed with pieces of metal, with the power equivalent to 200 grams (7 ounces) of TNT. A criminal case was opened into the attempted murder of several persons. In total, 13 people were injured in the explosion, with six of them still in hospital.
Putin Says Terrorist Attack Took Place
The Russian president called the explosion in St. Petersburg a terrorist attack.
"You know that a terrorist attack took place in St. Petersburg [on Wednesday]," Putin said at a meeting with the Russian military personnel who participated in an anti-terror operation in Syria, adding that the Federal Security Service (FSB) had recently averted yet another terrorist attack.
Putin said that FSB was tasked to act within the law in regard to those who are plotting terrorist attacks in Russia, but in the event of a direct threat to lives of employees, criminals must be killed.
Later, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin was in constant communication with representatives of Russian special services on the investigation of the St. Petersburg incident. He also noted that the Kremlin does not consider the explosion a result of a failure of the intelligence services.
In addition, according to Peskov, it is not appropriate to say that St. Petersburg has become more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, as terrorism poses a threat to every locality in the world.
Investigators Probing All Versions
According to preliminary data from the Russian Investigative Committee, the improvised explosive device exploded in a supermarket storage locker.
The investigators continue to follow all leads and explore all hypotheses behind the causes of the explosion, including the terrorist attack, the committee's spokeswoman, Svetlana Petrenko, said on Thursday.
"Investigators will look into all possible versions of what took place," she said.
Investigators continue to work on the site of the explosion.
Assistance to Victims
The governor of St. Petersburg instructed to provide material assistance to the victims of the blast. The governor's spokesman, Andrei Kibitov, said that 300,000 rubles ($5,220) would be paid to each victim.
"The government of St. Petersburg, by order of Governor Georgy Poltavchenko, will make payments to the victims of yesterday's terrorist attack. The amount of payments will be 300,000 rubles to each of the victims. Payments will be made from the reserve fund of the governor," Kibitov wrote on Twitter.
The city authorities also plan to discuss security arrangements with retailers. Representatives of Russian retail chains told Sputnik that they have been strengthening security measures at stores. The St. Petersburg subway has also been implementing additional security measures.