Police in Moscow and other Russian cities stepped up security on Monday evening after an attack at the capital’s Domodedovo airport killed over 30 people and wounded scores earlier in the day.
Preliminary reports suggest an explosive device was detonated by a suicide bomber as passengers arrived at Domodedovo airport’s international arrivals gate at 4:40 p.m. (13:40 GMT).
Health and emergency officials said 35 people died and that 76 remain in hospital, many in a grave condition.
Planes from London and Brussels, as well as Greece, Ukraine and Egypt, had landed in the 30 minutes preceding the attack. Investigators say two British citizens were among the dead. The U.K. Foreign Office has not yet confirmed the report.
Law enforcement officials said the power of the blast was equal to 5 kg of TNT and that the bomb was packed with metal objects to cause maximum damage. A RIA Novosti correspondent at the scene reported floors and staircases covered in blood.
YouTube footage showed the bodies of the dead and injured lying in a smoke-filled arrivals zone.
The bombing was the second suicide attack to hit Moscow in less than 12 months. In March 2010 two female suicide bombers from the volatile North Caucasus republic of Dagestan blew themselves up on the capital metro system, killing 39.
That attack was claimed by Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov, who warned that “war” was coming to Russia’s streets.
A visibly shaken President Dmitry Medvedev told officials in a televised meeting that, "From the preliminary information we have, it was a terrorist attack.”
He also said that an investigation would be carried out into how the attacker had managed to strike.
"After previous similar events, we passed appropriate legislation, and we have to check how it has been applied,” he said.
“Obviously there have been lapses. We will have to look into this,” he added.
Medvedev also pledged assistance to the families of the dead and those injured in the attack and announced he would postpone his visit to the Davos economic forum in Switzerland.
A law enforcement source told RIA Novosti that the security services were aware that terrorists were planning an attack on a Moscow airport, but were unable to locate and detain the three suspects they had been searching for.
The international community condemned the blast, with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen saying he was "deeply disturbed" by the attacks.
"I strongly condemn this outrageous act of terrorism against the Russian people," U.S. President Barrack Obama said in a statement.
British Premier David Cameroon offered the Russian authorities “complete support” and “made clear that the people of Britain stood with the people of Russia in the face of these events,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
This is not the first time Domodedovo has been targeted by terrorists. Two planes which took off from the airport, Moscow’s busiest, were blown up by female Chechen suicide bombers in August 2004, killing a total of 90 people.
MOSCOW, January 24 (RIA Novosti)