Female suicide bomber blows herself up at the main railway station in the southern Russian city of Volgograd

At least 15 people were killed and twice as many wounded in a suicide bomb attack in a southern Russian city, half way between Moscow and Sochi, which will host Winter Olympic Games six weeks from now.

A female suicide bomber blew herself up at a railway station in Volgograd around 12.45 p.m. on Sunday, the Russian Interior Ministry said.

A local security official said the suicide bomber detonated her explosive at a metal detector at the main entrance to the city’s railway station. A video from a CCTV camera across the square from the railway station showed a powerful blast rip through the high entrance archway spewing flame and black smoke and shattering windows in the railway station.

Volgograd Governor Sergei Bozhenov told Russian state television that 15 people died and 35 were injured in the attack.

“The number of casualties would have been much higher if the suicide bomber had managed to enter the railway station, where hundreds of passengers were waiting for their trains,” said Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia’s Investigation Committee.

Investigators said the bomb was equivalent to at least 10 kilogrammes of TNT and packed with nuts and bolts. Experts, who collected the remains of the alleged suicide bomber, identified her as Oksana Aslanova, a 26-year-old native of Dagestan. She had been married to a militant and after he got killed by security forces she married another militant. Such women are known in Russia as “black widows” who become suicide bombers to avenge their husbands.

This is a second suicide bomb attack in Volgorad in just over two months. A female bomber set off a suicide vest inside a bus in October, killing six people.

Volgograd, a city with a population of one million people, lies about 1300 km south of Moscow and 900 km north from Sochi, the venue of the 21st Winter Olympic Games, scheduled for February 4 to 23.

Sunday’s attack came two days after a car bomb killed three people in the southern city of Pyatigorsk, 570 kilometres east of Sochi.

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov in an online video posted in July urged militants to use “maximum efforts” to wreck “Satanist games”, planned to be held “on the bones of our ancestors”. He said he was lifting a moratorium on attacks against civilian targets outside the North Caucasus that he had declared almost two years ago.

The self-proclaimed leader of the “Caucasus Emirate” claimed responsibility for several major terrorist attacks in Russia in 2009-2011.

Russian authorities said they were taking unprecedented security measures in Sochi and neighbouring regions to ensure peaceful conduct of the games.

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