Four reported dead in pre-election blast
June 11, 1996
Web posted at: 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT)
MOSCOW (CNN) -- A bomb blast ripped through a subway train in the Moscow Metro Tuesday night, killing four people, the mayor's office reported. At least 12 people were seriously hurt, rescue officials said.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov characterized the incident as "a wild terrorist act" that must be viewed as an attempt to create chaos in the days preceding the elections. "We've never had anything like this in the Moscow Metro," the mayor said.
The train had just pulled away from the Tulskaya Metro stop and was about 400 meters down the track when the bomb went off at 9:20 p.m. local time (1:20 p.m. EDT). A Federal Security Service official said the blast appeared to have been caused by an explosive device hidden underneath the front seat of the fourth car. Investigators were able to rule out electrical problems, which plague the aging system, as the cause.
Three people died immediately, and a fourth died in the hospital. Two of the four dead were women, and a 4-year-old child was among the injured, Luzhkov said. He said the train, which was at one-third its capacity when the bomb exploded, was so damaged by the blast that it could not be moved. Workers were trying to restore service to the rail line, the mayor said.
The Tulskaya station is in south Moscow, near the Moscow River. About 250 people were on the train at the time of the explosion.
Federal security officials said they believed the bomb was made up of between 200 and 300 grams of explosive material. Investigators said the blast set off an intense fire with thick black smoke. The station was immediately closed down and sealed off, and the metro line on which the explosion occurred was also shut down.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but officials said they suspected it was the work of either anti-government activists trying to disrupt the upcoming elections or Chechen rebels retaliating for an attack earlier Tuesday against a convoy carrying Chechen negotiators.
A peace agreement was reached between Russia and Chechnya Tuesday, but its future was precarious.
Luzhkov, however, said he did not believe that Chechen rebels were behind the attack. "I am sure it was done to stop the elections going ahead normally ... It is directed against the president and against me," he said.
Separatists in Chechnya have made repeated threats to set off bomb attacks in Moscow in an attempt to disrupt presidential elections, which are just four days away.
Four days ago a candidate for vice mayor of Moscow, Valery Shantsev, was seriously injured in a bomb blast.
Because of heightened security for Wednesday's Russian Independence Day celebrations, officers from the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service sealed off the area where the blast occurred.
The Moscow Metro, though aging, is one of the world's busiest subway systems, carrying about 9 million people each day. In contrast, the New York City subway system carries only 3 million passengers daily, though it has twice as many miles of track.
- Blasts strike Chechen rebel negotiators' convoy - June 11, 1996
- Chechen rebels sign agreement with Russia - June 10, 1996
- Two Russian soldiers killed in Grozny - May 29, 1996
- Yeltsin declares Russian victory over Chechnya - May 28, 1996
- Russia, Chechnya sign cease-fire agreement - May 27, 1996
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