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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Investigators Focus on Ultranationalist Leads

Investigators said Wednesday that they were focusing on the possibility that ultranationalists bombed a St. Petersburg-bound train earlier this week, injuring 27 people.

"Detectives and investigators are working on several angles. The top lead, however, is that representatives of extremist nationalist organizations were involved in this terrorist act," a source close to the investigation told Interfax.

The source said it was also possible that Islamist militants from the North Caucasus organized the attack, which derailed the Moscow-St. Petersburg train and paralyzed railway traffic for hours.

Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe said a man identifying himself as the deputy commander of Riad Salikhin, a previously unknown group of Islamist militants, had called its North Caucasus desk on Wednesday afternoon to claim responsibility for the attack. The late Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev led a group of suicide bombers called Riadus Salakhin.

The caller's claim could not be independently confirmed.

Investigators on Wednesday questioned members of the ultranationalist Movement Against Illegal Immigration. The group's head, Alexander Belov, said federal prosecutors had interrogated him and members of the group's branch in the Novgorod region, where the train was bombed.

A composite sketch of a possible culprit has been drawn that depicts a man with distinct Slav features, the Interfax source said. The source also said investigators have uncovered "a lot of useful information" on the bombing on the Internet, including postings at forums and other sites.

The bomb's design and the tactics used closely resembled two earlier attacks blamed on ultranationalists. Two ultranationalists were convicted in April of bombing a Grozny-Moscow train in 2005. A group of ultranationalists are now on trial for an attempt to kill Unified Energy System chief Anatoly Chubais with a roadside bomb in 2005.

St. Petersburg doctors said 19 passengers remained hospitalized Wednesday afternoon and were in satisfactory condition, Interfax reported. Twenty-five people were initially hospitalized.

The train's engineer, Alexei Fedotov, prevented a higher casualty toll by keeping the train moving after the explosion, Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin said at a news conference. If he had immediately applied the brakes, the train might have plunged off the bridge.

"Fedotov automatically and within seconds did everything to prevent a catastrophe," Yakunin said.

Fedotov told Moskovsky Komsomolets in comments published Wednesday that his "only thought" was to stop the train from derailing.