MOSCOW — At least 10 people were killed on Monday when a powerful explosion tore through a subway car in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second biggest city, officials said.
Dozens of people, including children, were also injured by the blast and shrapnel unleashed in the explosion, which took place when the train was traveling between two stations. Images shared on social media showed bodies strewn across a smoke-filled platform and a gaping hole in the side of the subway car hit by the blast.
“The reasons for the explosion are unknown, so it’s too early to talk about it. The investigation will show what happened,” Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was in St. Petersburg at the time of the attack, said. He also said Russia had not ruled out it was a terrorist attack.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said that blast was caused by an unidentified explosive device. Another bomb was defused at a nearby station, officials said. Increased security measures were in place in Moscow ahead of the evening rush hour.
Eyewitnesses said the explosion took place after a man left a briefcase in the carriage. Russian media said the suspect was caught on surveillance cameras.
The Islamic State terror group has threatened to attack Russia on multiple occasion over its military campaign in Syria. Although it has previously claimed a number of attacks, including the bombing of a plane full of Russian holidaymakers returning from Egypt in 2015, this would be the most serious strike on Russian soil by the terrorist organization. No group has yet claimed responsibility, however.
“Everything was covered in smoke, there were a lot of firefighters,” Maria Smirnova, who was on the train behind the one hit by the blast, told Russia’s Dozhd television channel. “Firefighters shouted us to run for the exit, and everyone ran. Everyone was panicking.”
Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova told reporters that seven people were killed on the spot, another died in an ambulance heading for a hospital and two others later died at the hospital.