Russian police round up dozens after suicide bombings
Wednesday, 1 January 2014 00:00
REUTERS: Police detained dozens of people on Tuesday in sweeps through the Russian city of Volgograd after two deadly attacks in less than 24 hours that raised security fears ahead of the Winter Olympics.
A man wounded when a bomber set off a blast in the city’s railway station on Sunday died overnight, bringing the toll in that attack to 18. Investigators said 14 people died in a bus bombing on Monday but health officials put the toll at 16.
There was no indication that any of those arrested was connected to the attacks.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but they underscored vulnerability to bombings and raised fears of attacks by Islamist insurgents whose leader has called on militants to prevent Russia hosting the Olympics in February.
Mourners laid flowers at the site of the suicide bombing that tore the bus apart.
The attacks posed a challenge to President Vladimir Putin, who oversaw a war that drove rebels from power in Chechnya over a decade ago but has been unable to quell the Islamist insurgency that erupted in its wake.
Volgograd - formerly Stalingrad - is a city of about 1 million and a transport hub for an area of southern Russia that includes Chechnya and the other mostly Muslim provinces of the North Caucasus, where the insurgency generates deadly violence almost every day.
Two people were killed in a bomb blast in Dagestan late on Monday, authorities said. Putin has staked his prestige on the Games in Sochi, which lies at the Western edge of the Caucasus Mountains and within the strip of land the insurgents want to carve out of Russia and turn into an Islamic State.
He ordered increased security nationwide after the attacks, the deadliest outside the North Caucasus since a suicide bomber from a province next to Chechnya killed 37 people at a Moscow airport in January 2011.