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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

9 Injured in Metro Explosion

A bomb went off in a busy subway station in central Moscow during the evening rush hour Monday, injuring at least nine people and stoking the Russian capital's terrorism jitters.

The bomb struck one of the city's best-known landmarks, famed for its stained glass, mosaics and chandeliers. Many people were headed home from work and temperatures as low as minus 18 C gave an added incentive to use the warm metro.

The explosion occurred just before 7 p.m. at the Belorusskaya station on the Ring Line, which circles the center of Moscow, said Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov.

At least nine people were injured, including seven who had to be hospitalized with burns and lacerations, said Igor Elkis, chief doctor of the Moscow ambulance service. The injured included two children, Elkis said.

The station was evacuated and its entrances sealed off, but trains continued to run, though without stopping at the station, officials said.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud boom and seeing a bright flash of light, and some complained about hearing loss after the blast.

"There was a bang, many people ducked, and then smoke started pouring out," an unidentified young man told Russia's NTV television network. Television reports showed scattered chunks of marble littering the station floor.

Agents of the Federal Security Service, the chief domestic security and anti-terrorism agency, were on the scene, and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov pronounced the blast a terrorist attack, though he didn't say by whom.

Police officials however warned that it was too early to speculate about motives. Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation.

Moscow, the scene of dozens of bombings over the past several years, has been edgy about terrorism since a series of bombs, two of them striking Moscow apartment buildings, killed some 300 people in Russia in 1999. The bombings were among the reasons for Russia's renewed military campaign to retake control of the breakaway province of Chechnya.

The government blames guerrilla commanders in Chechnya and has arrested and charged several suspects. But that hasn't stopped some Russian news media from entertaining conspiracy theories about shadowy elements working on behalf of the government.

Other bombings have included attacks on two trolleybuses that injured 33 in 1996 during a previous war against Chechen separatists.

Bombs are also a favored weapon of organized crime groups in turf battles. An explosion that killed 13 people near a row of trading stalls in an underground walkway in the city center in August has been linked by officials to organized crime, though details are sketchy.

Arrests and convictions are infrequent, and the public often never learns the full story about who was behind an attack.