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 90-minutes away, for medical help.
Investigators said they have opened a criminal case after 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.
© Photo: twitter.com/alex_domnikov
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.
Voice of Russia, RIA, Interfax,