Suicide Bomber Suspect in Bus Blast

ReutersInvestigators collecting evidence Friday around the burnt-out remains of the bus after the explosion on Thursday.
A suicide bomber could have been responsible for a blast Thursday that tore through a commuter bus in North Ossetia and killed six people, a law enforcement source said Friday.

A homemade bomb containing around 300 grams of TNT and stuffed with ball bearings detonated inside the bus as it approached a police checkpoint between North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria, authorities said.

The timing of the explosion, at exactly 7p.m., suggests the bomb was either equipped with a timer, or that a suicide bomber had instructions to detonate at this time, the source said, Interfax reported.

A woman, a nine-year-old girl and a border guard were identified among the dead. The bodies of three men remained unidentified as of Friday evening, and 10 people remained hospitalized.

Investigators have classified the explosion as a terrorist attack and are following up on reports that someone left the bomb in a bag as he got off the bus in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria. A composite sketch of the suspect has been drawn up, investigators said, Interfax reported.

The bomb could have been held in the lap of one of the passengers, Kommersant reported, citing sources in the forensic team that examined the bus. The experts had recovered the lower jaw, parts of the scalp and a gold chain of the passenger, the paper reported Saturday.

The bomb went off in the rear of the bus, while most of the passengers were sitting in the front, the paper said. The location and the fact that the bomb went off before the bus arrived at a police checkpoint led investigators to assume that it was not a suicide attack.

The bomb's organizers could, however, have detonated it via remote control and the carrier of the bomb might have been unaware of the fact, the paper said.

The explosion was the third in a commuter bus across the country in recent weeks.

Eight people were killed and 70 wounded when a homemade bomb went off in a bus in the Samara region city of Tolyatti on Oct. 31.

Eight days earlier, a teenage girl was killed and eight others wounded after a hand grenade dropped by a passenger exploded on a commuter bus in Dagestan.

Separatist groups in the North Caucasus have denied involvement in any of the blasts.

Meanwhile, Ingushetia resident Maksharip Khidriyev was charged with terrorism Friday for his suspected role in the Aug. 13 bombing of a Moscow-St. Petersburg train. Thirty people were hospitalized after a bomb derailed the train as it traveled through the Novgorod region.

Khidriyev and his brother, Amirkhan Khidriyev, were detained Oct. 23. Prosecutors produced evidence that they were in the district where the blast occurred, reported Friday.

Amirkhan Khidriyev is in custody but had not been charged as of Friday.