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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Terrorist' Car Bombing Rocks Kremlin




A car apparently equipped with a bomb exploded just meters from the main entrance to the Kremlin Wednesday evening, and authorities said its two occupants had attempted to drive it through a heavy wooden gate and into the Kremlin.


Four servicemen who were guarding the Kremlin were injured in the blast. At least two of the wounded were reported to be in serious condition. ..


The Federal Security Service, or FSB, said they were treating the incident as an act of terrorism. The driver of the car, identified as Dmitry Orlov, 65, was treated for minor injuries in a hospital. He was then arrested and taken for interrogation by the FSB, Interfax reported.


The Kremlin is President Boris Yeltsin's official residence, but the Russian head of state is away from Moscow, vacationing at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.


A spokesman for the FSB said in a telephone interview that a "fairly powerful" explosion occurred near the Spasskaya Tower entrance to the Kremlin, which is adjacent to St. Basil's Cathedral, shortly after 7 p.m.


Eyewitnesses reported hearing a loud bang, and then seeing a plume of smoke rising above the Kremlin. Police had cordoned off Red Square Wednesday evening and were combing the bomb scene for evidence.


Police said that according to documents found on Orlov, he is from the Moscow region city of Podolsk. His papers identified him as a journalist with Russkaya Pravda, a magazine published by the little-known All-Russian Liberation Movement. According to sources quoted by Interfax, Russkaya Pravda is a vehemently anti-Semitic publication.


Interfax, quoting FSB investigators, said Orlov was under questioning but had given no explanation for his actions. His apartment was being searched Wednesday evening, and he is to undergo psychiatric tests.


Police and security officials were releasing few details about the circumstances of the blast. NTV television reported that the car, a Russian-made Moskvich, was spotted by police as it sped along Ulitsa Ilyinka toward Red Square.


The car ignored stop signs and knocked down metal railings before coming to a halt about three and a half meters short of the wooden gates at the entrance to the Kremlin.


The car's driver jumped out of the Moskvich and fired repeatedly from a gas pistol. The FSB later said the pistol had been modified to fire bullets. Immediately after the third shot, the car exploded, NTV reported. NTV claimed that there was a second man with Orlov and that he was still in the car when the explosion happened. The FSB and police, however, made no mention of a passenger in the car.


The whole of Red Square was sealed off by police and FSB investigators were inspecting the site of the blast, the FSB spokesman said.


Two of those injured are officers of the Federal Guard Service and another two are reported to have been serviceman of the elite Kremlin regiment. All four were rushed to the Sklifosovsky emergency care clinic and at least two of them are in serious condition.


NTV identified those injured as Mikhail Bobrov, Dmitry Komarov, and Roman Khriply. The fourth man has not been identified.


The blast, which the FSB estimated to have been equivalent to at least six kilograms of TNT, was so powerful that the windows of several nearby buildings were blown out and the shock wave was felt by residents of the Rossia hotel, across the road from St. Basil's cathedral.


It was also felt by people walking in Repin park, about a kilometer from the Kremlin near the Tretyakov gallery.


"It was about 7 pm, we were hanging out in the park when we heard this deafening explosion," said Alexei Kukharenko, a student at the Moscow Road Transport Institute. "Then there was a big white cloud of smoke over the Kremlin. We thought it was fireworks."


"We heard a bang, but that was about it," said one man, who was working in a building across the Moscow River from the Kremlin at the time of the blast. "There was a shock wave that came through. It was quite distinct."


Red Square remained cordoned off by police as of late Wednesday and reporters and photographers were being kept some 200 meters from the scene of the explosion.


Even fire fighters were not allowed to enter the square and it was officers of the Federal Guard Service who had to extinguish the fire that enveloped the exploded car.


Large numbers of police and FSB officers were at the scene, some of them photographing the wrecked car.


The Moskvich was reduced to a blackened heap of twisted metal. Its roof appeared to have been torn off and its wheels had been ripped from the chassis.


No damage to the red-brick Spassky Tower, which dates to the 15th century, was visible, though there were news reports that it had suffered from the blast.


Red Square is frequently used as a stage for political protests.


In May 1987, a German, Mattheus Rust, 19, flew a light plane from Helsinki undetected by Moscow's air defenses and landed on Red Square. Last year, a man was reported to have driven a car into the mausoleum on Red Square that houses the body of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. Police however, said the man was drunk.


Spassky Gate is the main pedestrian entrance to the Kremlin and is used by journalists and low-ranking officials. Access is gained through a small door to the side of the gate. Senior officials enter by car through another gate.


The Kremlin said Wednesday the massive wooden gate has not been opened for years and is unlikely that it could have been forced.


***Staff Writer David McHugh contributed to this article***