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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Metro Bomb Called 'Political Terrorism'

The bomb blast that tore through a train car in a south Moscow metro station Tuesday evening, killing four and injuring 12, has been condemned by top officials and federal investigators as a "politically motivated terrorist act" committed by forces anxious to disrupt Sunday's presidential and mayoral elections.


"I am sure it was done to prevent the elections from going ahead normally," said Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, speaking at the blast scene Wednesday morning. "It was done to damage myself and President [Boris] Yeltsin."


Yeltsin agreed, saying in a statement released Wednesday that the attack was aimed at disrupting the electoral process.


"This savage, barbaric act on the eve of elections is aimed at destabilizing the situation in the capital and creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear in Russia," he said.


The bomb exploded inside a subway car on a southbound line some 600 meters from the Tulskaya Metro station on Tuesday at about 9:15 p.m. According to a spokesman for the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the bomb contained approximately 500 grams of explosive and was coated with metal fragments.


"These shrapnel bombs are designed to kill the maximum The police have made no arrests thus far, and the spokesman said there were few clues left at the scene of the crime, although some of the survivors described a "group of three men" who got off the subway car at the Tulskaya station just before the bomb exploded. Police have not released a description of the men.


A statement released by the FSB Wednesday said that investigators had concluded that the attack was politically motivated on the basis of "available facts." But an FSB spokesman told The Moscow Times that the conclusion about the motive was mere supposition.


"Just think about it logically," he said. "A bomb goes off. Who needs that? Obviously, someone who doesn't want the elections to happen."


The spokesman said, however, that both police and security forces were investigating other possibilities, among them Chechen provocation and gang-related violence.


Yeltsin's campaign chairman, Sergei Filatov, said that the number of police officers and troops patrolling Russian cities would be tripled during the election period. Luzhkov added after the blast that there would be heightened security measures taken in the Moscow metro.


Furthermore, in a joint statement released to the press Wednesday, Russia's General Prosecutor Yury Skuratov, Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov, and FSB director Mikhail Barsukov said that steps would be taken to prevent "all actions threatening state and public security, as well as any actions made with the goal of hindering the normal work of the electoral commission."


As an additional measure in response to the incident, four Interior Ministry armored personnel carriers were sent to guard Yeltsin's residence at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning.


In the Tulskaya station Wednesday, patrolmen said that the number of officers on their shift remained at the usual four men. The blast did not do any serious structural damage to the tunnel, and though the car was destroyed and the entire gray line was closed Tuesday night, the station opened on time the next morning and was functioning normally Wednesday.


The attack came on the eve of Russia's Independence Day, when banners reading "For Stability, and the Evolutionary Course of Reform" have been placed across major avenues in the city.


This is the second terrorist bomb attack in the history of the Moscow metro. The first was an explosion in January 1977 that killed seven and injured 37. Three alleged Armenian separatists were executed for the crime in 1979, triggering a wave of KGB repression against dissidents.


Moscow's metro is the world's busiest with over 12 million commuters daily, and has long been a point of pride for the mayor, whose reputation has been centered around his energetic construction of the city's infrastructure.


This is the third bombing incident in Moscow in less than a week. On Friday a powerful bomb put Luzhkov's running mate, Valery Shantsev, in the hospital with severe burns over 50 percent of his body. On Saturday, another bomb was discovered in a car on the outer ring road, just hours before Luzhkov was scheduled to visit construction workers on the highway.