Photo Gallery: Deaths, Injuries and Chaos in Moscow
Explosion in Russia Presumed Terror Attack Kills Dozens at Moscow Airport
A powerful bomb exploded on Monday afternoon in Moscow's busiest airport, killing dozens and wounding as many as 130, officials from the Health Ministry said. An airport spokeswoman said on Monday evening that 35 had been killed.
According to a report by the RIA Novosti news agency, the blast is thought to have been the work of a suicide bomber. Other Russian media have reported that it was planted in a piece of luggage and detonated remotely by a mobile phone.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev confirmed soon after the attack that officials believe it was a terrorist attack. No group has yet claimed responsibility.
"Security will be strengthened at large transport hubs," Medvedev wrote in a Twitter posting. "We mourn the victims of the terrorist attack at Domodedovo Airport. The organizers will be tracked down and punished." In a television address, Medvedev said that lax security had made the attack possible. The Russian president has delayed his departure for the World Economic Forum in Davos, scheduled for Tuesday.
Domodedovo is the largest of three airports serving the Russian capital. A video distributed by Twitter shows the chaotic scene inside the airport with several small fires barely visible through the thick smoke. Luggage and carts are strewn about; several inert bodies can likewise be seen in the video.
Twitter users are reporting that heavy traffic on the roads into Moscow from the airport is making it more difficult to rush the wounded to hospital. "Drivers aren't letting the ambulances through," reads one Tweet from a traffic jam. Indeed, it was a Twitter user, Ilya Likhtenfeld, who first reported the explosion at 4:30 p.m. local time. "Terror attack at Domodedovo!" she wrote. "A terrible explosion in the airport building! Dozens of bodies of torn apart!"
A newly arrived British Airways passenger, Mark Green, told BBC television that "as we were putting the bags in the car, a lot of alarms ... were going off and people started flowing out of the terminal, some of whom were covered in blood."
The airport is located 42 kilometers southeast of the Moscow city center. Despite being seen as the city's most modern airport, it has been criticized for inadequate security precautions in the past. In 2004, two suicide bombers were able to buy tickets illegally before blowing themselves up in the air. Ninety people were killed in the pair of attacks.
Security across Moscow, particularly in the subway system and transportation hubs, was immediately strengthened in the wake of the Monday attack. In March, 2010, 40 people were killed and 60 injured in two explosions that struck the subways system. The attacks were the work of two female suicide bombers from the instable region of Dagestan.
More recent attacks in Russia have likewise originated from the North Caucasus, particularly the separatist Caucasus Emirate in the region of Chechnya. Recently, however, there has been a struggle for leadership within the group. Whether it has resulted in a split is unclear. Analysts say that rebels from the North Caucasus planned to step up activity ahead of the 2012 presidential elections in Russia.
In 2009, Chechen fighters claimed responsibility for detonating a bomb on a high-speed train between St. Petersburg and Moscow. Twenty-six people died in that attack.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen posted a message on Twitter in which he said he was "deeply disturbed" by the attack. "I strongly condemn it. NATO and Russia stand together in the fight against terrorism."