Russia hints at al-Qaeda link to metro bombings

Russia hints at al-Qaeda link to metro bombings

By | 2010-03-30T04:29:00-04:00 March 30th, 2010|News|0 Comments

Moscow held a day of mourning Tuesday for the 39 victims of twin rush-hour suicide bombings on packed metro trains, as Russian leaders pledged to hunt down and wipe out those behind the attacks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said militants operating on the Afghan-Pakistan border may have helped organize suicide bomb attacks that killed 39 in Moscow on Monday, Interfax news agency reported.

Two female suicide bombers attacked Moscow metro stations during the Monday morning rush hour. Both likely had links to the North Caucasus, the center of an Islamist insurgency against Moscow, the head of Russia’s FSB state security service said.

Some Russian officials have said that the insurgents in the North Caucasus, which includes Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, have ties to al-Qaeda, though many analysts have disputed the link.

Lavrov did not mention al-Qaeda, but said the bombers may have had links to militants on the Afghan-Pakistan border, where al-Qaeda militants, and Afghan and Pakistan Taliban fighters are present.

Asked if there could have been any foreign involvement in Monday’s attacks, Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying: "I do not exclude that."

"We all know that the Afghan-Pakistan border, in the so called no-man’s land, the terrorist underground is very well entrenched," Lavrov was quoted as saying.

"We know that many people there actively plot attacks, not just in Afghanistan, but also in other countries. Sometimes the trails lead to the Caucasus," he said.

39 killed, 64 wounded

Russian police are searching for two women who accompanied the suicide bombers, plus a man who may also have been an accomplice, after identifying them and the bombers through surveillance footage, Interfax reported citing a security source.

Emergency officials said the death toll had reached 39, not including the bombers. Another 64 people were wounded, including a woman from the Philippines and two women from Malaysia who were released from hospital after treatment.

Western leaders offered their condolences to Russia, and U.S. President Barack Obama pledged Washington would "help bring to justice those who undertook this attack" while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called terrorism a "common enemy."

"Whether you are in a Moscow subway or a London subway or a train in Madrid or an office building in New York, we face the same enemy," Clinton said in an interview with the Canadian network CTV.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the so-called "Caucasus Emirate" group led by Chechen militant Doku Umarov has repeatedly warned in recent months it was planning to strike the capital.

The Moscow metro continued working despite the disaster, with only one line temporarily shut down, and by the end of the day Lubyanka station had reopened to passengers with only minimal damage to its marble walls.

Monday’s explosions were the deadliest suicide attacks in Moscow since 2004 when the bombing of a metro train killed 41, part of a string of attacks carried out by Chechen militants.

Chechnya has seen rising violence in recent months as pro-Kremlin regional authorities seek to clamp down on an Islamist insurgency that has also spread to the neighboring majority-Muslim regions of Ingushetia and Dagestan.