Two explosions at subway stations in St. Petersburg, Russia, have claimed the lives of nine people and left over 50 people injured.
ABC News reports the explosions happened Monday (April 3) just before rush hour at Sennaya Square and Technology Institute stations. Images and videos from the scene were spread through social media, showing one of the train cars in disarray with passengers trying to escape the station. Initial reports claimed 10 people were killed but the death toll was dropped to nine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was in his hometown of St. Petersburg for a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Putin commented on the incident and sent condolences to the victims’ families. “The causes are not yet clear, and so it’s still early to talk about that, the investigation will show,” he said. “But, naturally, we always examine all versions, ordinary and criminal, above all incidents of a terrorist character.” St. Petersburg is the country’s second largest city and the stations targeted are considered to be central points of transfer for commuters.
“People were bleeding, their hair burned,” a witness told Russia’s Life News, Fox News reports. “My girlfriend was in the next car that exploded. She said that he began to shake. When she came out, she saw that people were mutilated.”
State news agency RIA Novosti confirmed metro service in the city have been shut down along with the closings of Park Pobedy, Elektrosila, Moskovskie Vorota, Frunzenskaya, Sadovaya and Gostiny Dvor stations.
Russsia has been plagued by transit attacks in the past. In 2010, two female suicide bombers two targeted central Moscow’s subway stations, killing 38 people. In 2004, 41 people were killed and over a hundred were injured when a male suicide bomber detonated at the Avtozavodskaya subway station on the Zamoskvoretskaya line.
CNN reports a spokesperson from the National Anti-terrorist Committee says a device may have set off the explosion. “So far, we say it was an unidentified explosive device as investigators and the Federal Security Service’s bomb specialists are to establish the exact cause of this explosion,” Andrei Przhezdomsky said. Other sources claim shrapnel was found at the station.
UPDATE: 4/4/2014 8:50 AM EST
Authorities have identified the suspect in the St. Petersburg bombing, but decided not to release his name. BBC News reports the Russian committee believe the suspect was a suicide bomber connected to a radical Islamist group. The suspect was born in Kyrgyz and obtained a Russian citizenship. “It has been ascertained that an explosive device could have been detonated by a man, fragments of whose body were found in the third carriage of the train,” read a statement from the Russian state investigative committee.
In total, 14 people have died in the attack with 45 injured. World leaders offered their condolences to Russia, as well as President Donald Trump. A statement from the White House confirmed Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin and “agreed that terrorism must be decisively and quickly defeated.”