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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Explosion rocks Russia : 11 dead, dozens injured

It was reinstated on Monday that terror knows no boundaries, neither territorial nor ethical. Just few days after  the Westminster attack in the heart of London, the world has been subjected to another bomb blast in an underground metro in Russia. The explosion tore through a briefcase, which had been left in the train at the Sennaya Ploshchad station as it was passing through a tunnel. The blast took place in the centre of Russia’s second biggest city, St Petersburg at about 2.30pm (11.30am GMT) on Monday.

A large number of people were seen lying down on the ground with injuries after the explosion. Even dead bodies were seen strewn across the platform outside the train, striking terror among the masses. A few doors of the metro were completely blown out, as can be clearly seen in a photograph taken moments after the blast. People had to exit the carriage through the windows as the doors ceased to function.

11 people have reportedly lost their lives in this tragic incident. More than 50 people have been hospitalized, 6 of whom had critical injuries. Agencies in St. Petersburg gave differing numbers for the dead and injured at various points on Monday. The eyewitnesses told Russia 24, a state run news agency that the injured were taken out of the metro by the police and members of the rescue team, helped by the local people. Most brought out of the metro station were covered in blood. Bandaged and bloodied victims were carried out of the station by rescuers as medical helicopters landed at the scene to evacuate the injured.

Blast victims lie near a subway train hit by a explosion at the Tekhnologichesky Institut subway station in St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, April 3, 2017. (AP Photo/DTP&ChP St. Peterburg via AP)

Metro passengers described the horrific aftermath of the blast. Photographs show the facade of one of the cars ripped off, while others showed passengers running from the Tekhnologichesky Institute station as it was filled with smoke.

“So far, we say it was an unidentified explosive device as investigators and the Federal Security Service’s bomb specialists are to establish the exact cause of this explosion,” Andrei Przhezdomsky told the media. However, there are speculations that the explosive used was a nail bomb. The nail bomb is an explosive device packed with nails leading to greater loss of life and injury than the explosives alone would, as the nails act as shrapnel.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack led to the shutdown of the entire metro system in St. Petersburg, whose five lines carry 2.3 million people per day, increasing immense load of traffic on the road. The city has come to a standstill as severe traffic jams with long queues of vehicles have been reported. The telecom network is also facing serious problems due to unprecedented amount of calls as everyone is trying to make sure the well being of their kins and friends. A number of streets at ground level were also shut down.

Rumours also kept making the rounds throughout the day. Initial reports suggested that there had been two explosions, one each at Sennaya Ploshchad and Tekhnologichesky Institute station. The news spread like wild fire with some assistance from word of mouth publicity. Later it came to light that there had been no second blast but an explosive device was discovered, at another station, Ploshchad Vosstaniya which was successfully diffused. This confirms terrorist activity as the bombs had been strategically planted at more than one place.

The attack was well planned and the day chosen was such that both President Vladimir Putin, and the media were already present in the city. Their objective was to magnify the scale of their gross deed by getting extensive media coverage to create an atmosphere of dread across the globe. The President, who had been in St Petersburg earlier in the day, said all causes were being investigated, including terrorism. Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev described the explosion as a “terrorist act.”

The Russian security agencies have already begun to investigate the matter. Warrants have been issued against two people: one for planting the bomb on the train, the other for leaving the second device at a metro station. The suspicion of Russian security agencies are likely to focus on two possible suspects, neither yet confirmed. First, an IS-inspired Islamic radical group enraged by recent Russian airstrikes in Syria. And second, Chechen nationalists (or even a combination of both). Chechen militants and international jihadists do have a track record of plotting to attack Russia’s transport hubs, notably in Moscow. An estimated 7,000 Russians have travelled to Syria to join extremist groups.

All the western politicians and media who kept ignoring terrorist activities in South Asia throughout the last century and the first decade of the 21st century, bracketing them as regional matters of respective countries have now come to terms with the hell Islamic terrorists can unleash. It is now high time to stop differentiating between good and bad terrorism which has been pointed out many-a-times at international forums by PM Modi and to seclude countries that indulge in augmenting terror activities.

Trying to use terrorists to secure national interests or backing them up should be severely condemned. The time has come to understand that if any country or a group of countries, makes an effort to render terrorists immune against strict action for their own petty benefits, in the long run it is bound to backfire. The need of the hour is the formation of a consolidated international anti-terrorism plan with the support of all nations to sweep terrorism from the face of the earth, once and for all.

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