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Moscow Subway Blast Kills at Least 25

Times Staff Writers

A suspected suicide bombing in the Moscow subway during rush hour this morning killed at least 25 people and wounded at least that many, Russian authorities said.

Dozens of ambulances were dispatched to the scene as clouds of smoke billowed through the tunnel. The explosion, believed to be in the second car of the train, triggered a fire, emergency officials said.

Authorities estimated that a bomb with the force of 2 pounds of dynamite was set off at 8:40 a.m., Russian news media reported. A suicide bombing was suspected, and a criminal investigation of terrorism and premeditated murder was immediately launched.

“So far, we do not know whether it could have been a man or a woman,” a Moscow police official told the Russian news agency Interfax. He said security services had not ruled out possibilities other than a suicide bombing.

An official of the Federal Security Service, the domestic successor to the Soviet-era KGB, also told Interfax that terrorism was suspected as the most probable cause of the blast.

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Some passengers were evacuated from the Avtozavodskaya subway station near central Moscow, one stop from the city’s main circular subway line, and victims were receiving medical aid. The explosion occurred after the train left the Paveletskaya station and headed southeast to Avtozavodskaya, Interfax reported.

By 10:30 a.m., it appeared that most or all of the victims had been evacuated from the tunnel.

Tense commuters stood quietly at Paveletskaya station, about three miles south of the Kremlin, looking worried but not panicked.

Viktor Ivanov, 48, a business consultant, said he was getting ready to go into the station when he saw people moving.

“Then I saw that people were being led out of the Metro with their clothes torn and their faces and hands all in blood,” he said. “Someone told me there had been an explosion in a Metro car. It is indeed a horrible tragedy, and no wonder I and some of the people in this crowd feel extremely indignant about what happened.

“We have been trying to solve this problem for almost 10 years now, but we have not succeeded. It’s like bashing our heads against a brick wall with Chechnya. This part of Moscow I’m standing in doesn’t look anything like a city that’s moving toward prosperity. It’s more like a front-line zone.”

The part of the city near the affected stations was paralyzed in gridlock traffic, as cars pulled over to let ambulances and police vehicles make their way through the streets with sirens blaring. At midmorning, about two dozen ambulances remained parked outside the Paveletskaya station.

There have been numerous instances in Moscow and elsewhere in the nation in recent years of attacks attributed to rebels fighting for the independence of Chechnya, a republic in Russia’s southern Caucasus region.

Two women set off suicide bombs at a Moscow rock concert in July, killing themselves and 14 others. Five days later an aborted suicide attack at a central Moscow restaurant killed a police officer trying to defuse the bomb. The suspected attacker was arrested and is awaiting trial.

A female bomber blew herself up outside the National Hotel across from Moscow’s Red Square in December, killing herself and at least five others.

There also was a bomb attack in August 2000 at a crowded pedestrian underpass filled with kiosks at Pushkin Square.

That attack, which killed 13 people, was initially blamed on Chechen rebels, but that was never confirmed and a turf battle between rival businessmen or criminal gangs was also considered a possible motive.


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