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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stavropol Commuter Train Bombed, 42 Dead

APRescue workers examining the mangled train car after the explosion Friday near the Yessentuki station in the Stavropol region.
YESSENTUKI, Southern Russia -- One family plans to bury their daughter in the wedding dress she hoped to wear soon, while another mother wept Saturday after discovering her son alive but deeply disfigured from the suspected suicide bombing on a commuter train in the Stavropol region.

Hospitals -- and morgues -- were crowded with grieving relatives searching for loved ones after Friday's early morning attack that killed 42 and injured 200 near the Yessentuki station. Many were students from local schools and universities.

The blast -- the second on the train line since September -- seemed aimed at spreading alarm ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections in the already tense region near Chechnya. Government officials closed public markets on what is usually the biggest shopping day, and extra police flooded the streets.

Officers with dogs swept deserted train stations, where ticket sellers said no one wanted to travel on the commuter line. The shrapnel-filled bomb believed strapped to a suicide attacker blew the train car apart as it was about 500 meters from the station, a spot where passengers would have begun crowding together toward the doors.

No one claimed responsibility, but government officials suggested Chechen rebels were behind the blast.

Authorities detained a man on suspicion of participating in the attack in the Stavropol region on Sunday. No other details were given by officials, who cited the need for secrecy.

Marina Tishtsenko found her son, Oleg, his face charred black on one side and swollen on the other. Others in his room had lost pieces of their skulls and suffered broken bones.

"The doctor said he would be OK," Tishtsenko said, weeping and shaking her head as if she herself were not sure.

One family found their daughter in the morgue and pledged to bury the bride-to-be in the wedding dress that she had hoped to wear for her wedding.

Many relatives were too traumatized to talk after being redirected from hospital wards to morgues in search of their loved ones. They turned away in tears from journalists' questions.

The death toll rose to 42 on Sunday after a woman died of her injuries in the hospital. By midday, authorities had identified all but one woman who died in the blast, said Vladimir Gerasimov, a duty officer with the Emergency Situations Ministry. Scores remained hospitalized.

The blast was the latest in a series of suicide bombings and other attacks that have foiled security measures and killed more than 275 people in and around the rebellious region of Chechnya and in Moscow in the past year. In September, two blasts on the same railway line, which links the cities of Kislovodsk and Mineralniye Vody, killed six people. No group claimed responsibility for those attacks.

Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev said the remains of the suspected bomber Friday were found with grenades still attached to his legs. Three women also were involved in the attack -- two who jumped from the train just before the blast, and one who was injured and unlikely to survive, he said.

Grigory Vyukhin, a third-year student at the Pyatigorsk Foreign Language Institute, said that he had already stopped traveling by train after the September blast.

"My brother laughed at me and called me a panic-stricken person," he said. "But my fears weren't groundless."

President Vladimir Putin condemned the attack as "an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country on the eve of parliamentary elections," and he equated it, as he has with other attacks, to international terrorism.

 Ingush police found a Volga sedan loaded with explosives in the town of Karabulak and detained two Chechen women, whose nearby home was allegedly filled with explosives, authorities said Friday. Officials said the women were being trained as suicide bombers.