Medvedev blames security lapse for Moscow blast

A report said a female suicide bomber could be involved in the Moscow attack.

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2011, 13:36 PM IST

Moscow: President Dmitry Medvedev placed the blame on Tuesday on a lapse in security for allowing a suspected suicide bomber to kill at least 35 people, including eight foreign citizens, and wound scores at Russia`s busiest airport.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday`s attack at Moscow`s Domodedovo airport, but a report said a female suicide bomber from Russia`s predominantly Muslim North Caucasus could be involved in the attack.

"The explosion occurred the moment the presumed female suicide bomber opened her bag," RIA Novosti quoted a security source as saying on Tuesday.

"The terrorist was accompanied by a man. He was standing beside her and (the blast) tore off his head," the state-run news agency quoted the unnamed security official as saying.

Russian investigators said Monday they had found a head of "Arab appearance" that was initially presumed to have belonged to the suicide bomber.

The action bore hallmarks of militants fighting for an Islamist state in the North Caucasus region on Russia`s southern frontier.

"It`s obviously a terrorist act that was planned well in advance in order to cause the deaths of as many people as possible," said President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday.

"What happened shows that there were clear security violations," he said. The attacker evaded security to carry the explosives into the airport`s arrival hall.

Meanwhile, Russia`s Emergencies Ministry said eight foreign citizens, including two Britons, are among the 35 people killed in a suicide bombing at Moscow`s busiest airport.

A preliminary casualty list published by the ministry early Tuesday shows a German and a Bulgarian among the dead, along with one person each from the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine.

North Caucasus rebels have threatened attacks against cities and economic targets in the run-up to Parliamentary Elections this year and 2012 Presidential Elections. The choice of Domodedovo, resulting in the deaths of several foreigners, suggested the attackers sought to raise uncertainty beyond Russia`s borders.

Russia is due to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, on the edge of the Caucasus, which some rebels consider part of the territory they aim to include in an Islamic state.

Medvedev, due to open the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, delayed his departure to the Swiss city of Davos and was due to hold a meeting with his security services on Tuesday. On Monday, he vowed to track down and punish those behind the blast.

Russian media reports gave conflicting information about the identity of the suspected bomber, or whether there might have been more than one attacker.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the more powerful in Russia`s `tandem` political leadership, built his early reputation as a strong leader by launching a war in late 1999 to crush a rebel government in the Northern Caucasus`s Chechnya region. That campaign achieved its immediate aim, but since then, insurgency has spread to neighbouring Ingushetia and Dagestan.

It has also assumed a more ruthless edge, spawning hardline factions difficult to monitor. Putin and Medvedev have said they would crush the rebel movements, but their control in the region has sometimes looked tenuous.
"These would likely (but not necessarily) be Islamists from the Northern Caucasus. If so, yet another example of the proposition that success in Chechnya has generated a more diffuse and dangerous threat," said Neil MacFarlane, Professor of International Relations, St Anne`s College, Oxford.

"The consequences? More abuse of people of Caucasian origin in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia...more intense military/police response in the region will make the problem more severe rather than less, because of the methods that are likely to be employed, and the obligation to revenge."

Bureau Report