9 Injured in Blast at Belorusskaya Metro

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A homemade bomb went off at the Belorusskaya metro station during evening rush hour Monday, injuring nine people and filling the busy station with smoke.

The bomb, with the strength of 200 grams of TNT, went off under a marble bench on the Circle Line platform at 6:45 p.m. just as a train was pulling in, a metro police office said by telephone.

The blast revived memories of the deadly explosion at the Pushkin Square underpass last summer, whose culprits have not been found.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who quickly appeared on the scene and inspected the site of Monday's blast, did not hesitate to call it a terrorist attack.

He told reporters outside the station that the bomb would have caused greater injuries if it had blown up several seconds later, after the train had arrived in the station and as passengers were pouring out.

Mikhail Avdyukov of the city prosecutor's office said that it was too early to speculate on who may have been behind the explosion and that investigators were still looking for anyone who may have seen how the bomb was planted, Interfax reported.

Deputy head of the Moscow police force Alexander Oboidukhin told reporters outside the metro station that no suspects have been detained, but insisted that "there will be."

The police force ordered security boosted throughout the metro system and sent more patrolmen to conduct document checks in an attempt to find suspects.

Luzhkov said nine people were -injured in the explosion, including two children. Seven were hospitalized with burns and cuts.

Click here to read our Special Report on last year's Pushkin Square Bombing.

Police, according to Interfax, said only five were injured: Two teenage boys, identified by their last names, Serebryakov, 13, and Gogoryan, 11, were taken to Clinic No. 9; a man, whose name was not released, was rushed to the Sklifosovsky emergency care clinic; while two others, Olga Mishina, 32, and a 41-year-old man identified only by his last name, Yevseyenko, refused to be hospitalized.

A man who was in the station when the bomb went off told reporters that he had seen one older woman and one man injured.

The witness, who did not identify himself, said the blast was "of medium strength" and caused smoke to spread through the station.

Interfax quoted a witness, Vadim Kulikovsky, who said he saw three or four people injured when pieces of the station's marble walls splintered in the explosion. But he said the blast caused little panic and police began evacuating passengers within two minutes. Kulikovsky said he and other passengers left by escalator as smoke enveloped the station.

Passengers on the train that was pulling into the station when the bomb went off told Gazeta.ru that they were "slightly deafened by some muffled bang" and then saw smoke spreading across the platform.

The bomb was concealed in a bag, but it had no casing and thus was "less harmful," the metro policeman said.

Police sealed off the station, and although trains continued to run on the Circle Line, they did not stop at Belorusskaya while a team of sappers swept the platform.

A suspicious object was found on the tracks at the adjacent Belorusskaya Station, but the sappers determined it was a "false alarm," an Emergency Situations Ministry official said.

The explosion in August in the underground passage to the Pushkinskaya metro station killed 13 people. Police and the Moscow prosecutor have insisted that the bomb most likely was planted by an organized crime group trying to win control of local kiosks.

However, a source close to the Prosecutor General's Office said in a recent interview that federal prosecutors suspect Chechen rebels planted that bomb.

As of late Monday evening, the Chechen rebel web site Kavkaz.org had made no comment on whether the rebels were involved in the metro attack.