Russia names Kyrgyzstan native as prime suspect in St. Petersburg metro bombing
Russian investigators Tuesday named a 22-year-old Kyrgyzstan native as the primary suspect behind the bombing of St. Petersburg’s subway system that left 14 people dead, and up to 50 more injured.
The Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement that they believe Akbardzhon Dzhalilov, originally from Kyrgyzstan but with Russian citizenship, carried out a suicide bombing on the metro, and said DNA evidence linked him to a second bomb that was discovered and disabled by authorities at another subway station in the city.
Earlier on Tuesday a spokesman for Kyrgyzstan’s national security committee identified the suspect as a native of the central-Asian country, telling the state-owned Tass news agency, “It has been established that an individual suspected of carrying out a terrorist attack is a native of our republic.”
Kyrgyzstan is a predominantly Muslim nation of 6 million people and is seen as a close political ally of the Kremlin. The country is home to a Russian military airbase.
A source involved in the investigation told the Tass news agency that the perpetrator had links with Syrian rebels, while the Interfax news agency claimed the suspect had links to a radical Islamic group banned in Russia — but so far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was in St. Petersburg at the time of the attack, and he visited the scene on Monday evening, where he laid flowers at a makeshift shrine. Officially, the Russian government says that all possibilities are still being investigated, despite Russia’s general prosecutor opening a terrorism investigation. Three days of official mourning will take place across Russia, beginning on Tuesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
- A bomb exploded on a train car as it was traveling between the Sennaya Ploshchad and Tekhnologicheskiy Institut metro stations on Monday afternoon. Initial reports suggested a second bomb had detonated, but these reports proved to be false. Jalilov is also accused of planting a second unexploded bomb hidden in a fire extinguisher that was discovered at a metro station two miles away from the blast.
- On Tuesday morning Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova confirmed the death toll had risen from 11 to 14. Seven victims died at the scene, one died en route to the hospital, and six more died in hospital.
- Jalilov was born in the Kyrgyz city of Osh in 1995, according to Kyrgyz state media, who reported that the country’s security service was “maintaining contact with the Russian secret service for further investigation.”
- Russia’s second-largest city attempted to return to normal life Tuesday with the subway system reopening. Yet four stations were closed on Tuesday following reports of a bomb threat.
- CCTV images of Jalilov have been released, showing the young man walking through the metro system wearing a red jacket, glasses, and a dark green hat and carrying a rucksack on his back. Investigators speaking to Tass believe the explosion was caused by a homemade explosive device apparently packed inside the rucksack. The bomb was also filled with small metal objects in order to cause greater damage, unnamed sources told the agency.
- On Monday evening, U.S. President Donald Trump phoned Putin to offer his “full support” in bringing the perpetrators to justice. “Both President Trump and President Putin agreed that terrorism must be decisively and quickly defeated,” a statement said. There were also messages of support from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
- There has so far been no claim of responsibility for the attacks, and ISIS media channels have remained fairly quiet, though some Islamic State supporters on Monday did celebrate the attack, claiming it was a response to the country’s active support of dictator Bashar Assad in Syria’s civil war. ISIS has previously said it would carry out terrorist attacks in Russia.
Cover: (Reuters/Grigory Dukor)