At least 16 people are dead after a suicide bomber attacked a train station in Russia. 37 people sustained injuries, 8 of them more critically, including a girl of 9. The child has been taken to a local hospital. The blast occurred inside the train station in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, Sunday at around 12:45 p.m. Early reports said that a female bomber detonated her explosives at the entrance to the station, close to a metal detector.
Later Sky News reported the suspect named as a Dagestan national called Oksana Aslanova - the wife of a militant leader killed by Russian security forces. However, late Sunday there seems to be confusion surrounding the identity of the bomber and whether it was a female or male bomber.
Reports that a "male finger with a pin from a grenade was found at the scene" have caused confusion. Investigators, however, have not ruled out the attack could have been carried out by both a man and a woman.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued orders to security forces to "take all necessary measures".
Russia's anti-terrorism committee had earlier confirmed it believed a female suicide bomber was responsible. CCTV footage from the station shows the blast.
Moscow now fears that terrorist activity will increase in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, which have already been dogged by controversy. Volgograd lies about 900 kms (560 miles) southeast of Moscow.
Pundits predict a big investigation into the suicide bombing, particularly with the Sochi Olympics only weeks away. That event will also face unprecedented security measures.
According to BBC News:
An Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus region has led to many attacks there in recent years. Insurgents have also attacked big Russian towns.
In June, Doku Umarov, one of the leaders of the Islamist insurgency in the Russian Caucasus republics, called on his supporters to use "maximum force" to disrupt the "satanic" winter Olympics in Sochi.
Was Sunday's suicide bombing part of that campaign of disruption?
Russia Today is posting live updates of Sunday's bombing as events unfold.
The blast shattered glass, ripped through the station and caused a blaze that firefighters now have under control. At least two bodies were visible close to the train station entrance.
Eye witnesses have begun sharing first-hand experiences of the suicide bombing and posting images on Twitter. There are no reports of panic, but obviously people are anxious. There is a heavy police presence in the area, and first responders are at the scene.
The death toll is vague with some reports claiming at least 15 but others 18. Either figure, however, could rise.
The area of Volgograd will hold three days of mourning.
The attack is not the first in the region and obviously raises safety fears about the Feb. 4-23 Winter Games in Sochi.
In late October six people aboard a crowded bus were killed in a bomb attack, again by a female suicide bomber. Al Jazeera reported:
The Black Sea city lies 690 kilometres southwest of Volgograd and in direct proximity of the violence ravaging North Caucasus regions such as Dagestan and Chechnya on a daily basis. Fighters are said to be seeking to impose an Islamist state throughout Russia's North Caucasus.
On Friday "a car bomb explosion killed at least two people in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, Russia's news agencies reported."
Opinion: Again it seems that extremists are using the Muslim faith in order to inflict pain, suffering and death on others.
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