29 December 2013, 18:52

Volgograd suicide bomber's identity confirmed, photos now public

Volgograd suicide bomber's identity confirmed, photos now public

The suicide bomber who set off a 10kg TNT charge today in the southern Russian city of Volgograd had officially been identified as Oksana Aslanova, a 26-year-old Tabasaran national from Turkmenistan, the Voice of Russia's source reports.

An explosion rocked the railway station in Volgograd at 12:45 Moscow Time on Sunday, December 29th . According to the latest reports, 14 people were killed and dozens injured. One of the current version of events, the terrorist attack was carried out by Oksana Aslanova from Daghestan but that information needs to be confirmed,” the source said.

The woman was married to a militant warlord who was killed during a recent special operation. She was married several times. Investigators are searching for the relatives of Dagestani bandits suspected of masterminding terrorist attacks in Central Russia.

Investigations to establish the whereabouts of Oksana Aslanova has been underway in Daghestan since June of 2012.

Oksana Aslanova was reportedly born June 16, 1987 in Turkmenistan. She later moved to live in Russia’s North Caucasian Republic of Dagestan. She settled in the city of Derbent at 15/41, Rasulbekov Street and studied at the Dagestan State Pedagogic University.

She married Mansur Velibekov, a Chechen radical and member of the Southern (Yuzhnaya) criminal ring that was wiped in 2008. Upon her death, Velibekov’s widow became a so-called “Sharia wife” of the gang’s leader, Gasan Abdulayev.

Another report suggests that Aslanova was also married to a known terrorist, Israpil Validzhanov, who went under the nickname of Amir Hasan. He was eliminated on March 18, 2011 near the Dagestani village of Tashkapur.

There is no information about her since March 8, 2012 it is possible that the so-called "black widow", who outlived all her husbands, underwent training as a suicide bomber.

Her ID was reported as follows: passport series 6706 No 719598, issued on Aug. 25, 2007 by the Federal Migration Service in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region. She was registered at the address: 12/34, 1 Mikrorayon, city of Raduzhny in Nizhnevartovsk district in the Region of Tyumen.

Another theory has it that the Volgograd bombing was carried out by a male terrorist who carried explosives in a backpack, a police source told Russia's Interfax news agency.

“We’ve discovered that the suicide bomber was in fact a man who brought the IED to the railway station in a rucksack. His identity has been determined.”

The source did not name the alleged attacker, but added investigators had found an unexploded hand-grenade and a pistol at the scene, which presumably belonged to the terrorist.

Yet another police source in the North Caucasus region told Interfax the railway station’s CCTV footage also showed a man who might have been behind the bombing. “Videos from the building’s cameras suggest that the terror attack was apparently carried out by a man, although this information needs to be confirmed.”

As Dmitry Rutkov, psychologist and blogger from Volgograd, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia, people were not surprised by this attack.

"People received information from Internet and from other people. There is a list of injured and dead people but it is not full. I can see now in the Internet – the list of injured: there are only 11 people, but now in the Internet people are saying that there are 18 dead people. The scariest thing is that people were not surprised by this terror attack. It’s even scarier than the explosion itself," he said in an interview.

Volgograd's transport hub status makes it likely terror plot target - source

Volgograd is a major transportation hub in southern Russia, and this probably explains why it has been a target for bombings on two occasions in the last few months, a law enforcement source in the North Caucasus Federal District said in comments on Sunday's suspected suicide attack in the city that claimed at least 15 lives.

"It is, indeed, the second time that Volgograd has become a target for terrorist attacks. First of all, a female suicide attack set off an explosive device and then at a train station," the source told Interfax.

"Apparently this city is attractive to terrorists as it is a major transportation interchange hub in the south of Russia. The terrorist act carried out there has inevitably caused wide-scale reverberations, and that is the objective of the criminals," he said.

The station had apparently been the target for Sunday's blast, which is thought to have been perpetrated by a female suicide attacker, the source said.

"One can go to Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities from that station, but it isn't very likely that the female suicide bomber, with more than 10 kilograms of TNT on her, would have ventured a long-distance trip on a train or bus," he said.

Detectives are exploring strong suspicions that there is a well-organized militant group based in Volgograd, according to the source.

"There are most likely people in Volgograd who can meet an evildoer, supply her with explosives, and send her to a crowded place to carry out a terrorist act," the source said.

Investigators also believe it is highly likely that the suspected bomber came from the Caucasus, most likely from the Dagestan republic.

Earlier, a Dagestani law enforcement source said records on everyone who had left Dagestan in the past few days were being checked in trying to trace Sunday's suspected attacker. The bomb set off at the entrance to the Volgograd-1 station on Sunday claimed 15 lives and left about 50 people injured, according to updates.

As Sunday's attack, October's bus explosion is believed to have been perpetrated by a female suicide bomber. The attack is confirmed to have immediately claimed six lives and is believed to have killed the bomber as well. The toll rose as a woman injured in the attack died in a Moscow hospital on November 18.

Volgograd railway station blast: suicide bomber kills dozens, including one child

A Female suicide bomber blew herself up in a train station at the southern Russian city of Volgograd, killing over a dozen people and injuring scores more in the city's second deadly bombing in just over two months. According to Russia's Investigative Commitee, the power of the bomb blast was equivalent to 10 kg of TNT.

At least 14 people were killed, including one child, in a blast at a railway station in the city of Volgograd. 

Earlier it was reported that between 13 and 18 people were killed and up to 50 more were wounded, according to various estimates by Russian officials, by the blast near the metal detectors at the Volgograd-1 train station's front entrance at 12:45 pm (8:45 am GMT).

Some victims of the explosion are being evacuated by Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry by plane to Moscow, approximately a 90-minute flight away, for medical help.

Investigators said they have opened a criminal case into the attack for terrorism and weapons trafficking.

The Voice of Russia's interview with Joseph Linder , president of the International Anti-terrorist Training Association.

Could you please comment on the suicide bombing in Volgograd?

What happened today was clearly a tragedy. It was yet another random terrorist attack that killed and wounded scores of people. It's a real tragedy, and I can't find other words for what's happened.

What is the latest death toll? How many people have been injured?

Well, the data keep changing. The death toll now stands at over a dozen of people, somewhere between 13 and 15. Another 60 have been wounded. The crowd there was rather dense, hence a high proportion of the reported casualties. Unfortunately, the death toll may yet rise, depending on how hospitalized people will be faring. They are now receiving medical treatment or operated on in Volgograd hospitals. Let's hope there won't be any more deaths. But the current number of deaths is, of course, already too many. The estimates differ, although over 12 people are said to have been killed instantaneously. Some reports put the death toll at around 20 people, or 18 to 20. The final estimates will come in about three days, because the condition of blast victims may yet change over the next couple of days after surgery. In any case, it's a tragedy.

Has the report about a female suicide bomber been confirmed?

I'm afraid an expert is in no position to answer this particular question. Only a representative of the local investigative authority can do that. I'm speaking about the Federal Security Service, the Ministry of the Interior, Russia's Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General's Office, since no expert in his right senses will risk a conclusion like that without hearing the official account of events, even if there's been enough information. It's basically a matter of professional ethics.

Right. Is there a way to boost security in places of mass gathering?

First of all, we need to improve professional skills of security agents who admit people into crowded areas. For instance, it's no surprise that there's a lot of security control going on at international airports, and everyone is used to it. Unfortunately, there's no such control system in place at railways stations. It would need even more substantial funding and highly-trained security personnel posted at every entrance to all platforms and other railway zones. The entire infrastructure should be changed to put it on perimeter lockdown as airfields do. But it means a higher level of spending and another way of staffing. But we'll need much more cash to train personnel.

Are metal detector gates effective in that sense?

Metal detector walk through gates are quite efficient when it comes to looking for objects that have metal in them, such as edged weapons, firearms, explosives with metal components, although gates are less effective when looking for plastic explosives or the so-called "composites," which have insignificant amounts of metal in them. Therefore, we need more adequate control methods, which will increase the time of checks at railway stations and the number of entry points to prevent people from queuing in more areas as it would just increase the number of at-risk zones. We'll need more trained security staff. All of this will eventually raise ticket prices, because these novelties will be paid for out of the buyer's pocket, despite federal funding.

What are the specifics of anti-terrorist activities in Russia's southern federal district?

Anti-terrorist activities are more or less the same across the country. There are federal anti-terror laws in place, so every federal district abides by the same regulations that apply to Russia as a whole. The only difference is that the southern anti-terror authority has to bear in mind all the ethnic, social and geographical conditions in the Volgograd region and generally in the southern federal district. The rest of conditions are true of the entire country and every administrative entity in Russia.

The bomb that went off at a train station in Volgograd on Sunday was no less powerful than 10 kilograms of TNT, according to the Russian Investigative Committee.

"Apparently, there might have been a lot more fatalities had it not been for the so-called protective system, which prevented the suicide bomber from getting through metal detectors into the waiting room, where there was a large congestion of passengers, including because three trains had been delayed," Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

"At the moment witnesses of the crime are being identified and a series of necessary forensic tests have been ordered that will help the investigators find out all the circumstances of the crime and identify the dead bodies, including that of the suicide bomber," Markin said.

Earlier, Markin had said that remains of the presumed bomber had been found on the attack site and that a genetic identification test was planned.

The authorities of Volgograd are providing all necessary assistance to the families of those who died in the blast and those who were were injured, says Maria Ivanchenko, reporter for Volgograd-based Akhtuba TV company

Tell us please where you are and how far you are from the scene?

I’m reporting from Hospital No 25 – one of the best Volgograd hospitals – that is now treating some of the railway station blast victims. Governor Sergei Bozhenov has arrived at the hospital to speak with the people and see if they are provided with all necessary treatment. Medics say that the majority of the injured have lacerated wounds.

What are the latest numbers of the dead and injured?

The official death toll is at 13 to 15 people, with 37 wounded.

How could you comment on the current situation?

There’s no panic in Volgograd, although downtown traffic was earlier reported to be jammed. It has got much better since then. The situation is under control.

How are the local administration and the governor tackling all this?

The regional administration is doing everything in its power to help those affected by the deadly blast and their families. We are waiting for an emergency plane to land in the next few hours. It’s a specially equipped aircraft that will take the wounded to Moscow. Gov. Sergei Bozhenov said that families of those who perished in the bombing would be paid a million rubles each.

What help is available to the injured? How are they being treated?

The 37 victim are now receiving all medical help they need, they have been brought to the best hospitals in the city – Hospital No 25, Regional Hospital No 1, and Hospital No 7. They are taken care of by the best specialists and have all the medicament and surgical treatment at their disposal.

Read more:

Putin instructs power ministries to find out reason for terrorist attack in Volgograd

Families of Volgograd blast victims to be paid 1 million rubles each

Putin orders rendering assistance to Volgograd explosion survivors

Female suicide bomber kills at least 18, including one child, at Volgograd train station -Severed head of Volgograd suicide bomber discovered - source

Voice of Russia, RIA, Interfax, TASS, RT

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