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Successive suicide bombings in Russia kill over 30

MOSCOW (AP) - A blast that tore through an electric bus in the southern Russian city of Volgograd during Monday's morning rush hour, killing 14, was probably carried out by suicide bombers from the same organization behind a railway explosion a day earlier, officials said.

Together more than 30 people were killed in the explosions, putting the city of one million on edge and highlighting the terrorist threat Russia is facing as it prepares to host February's Winter Games in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin's pet project. While terrorists may find it hard to get to the tightly guarded Olympic facilities, the bombings have shown they can hit civilian targets elsewhere in Russia with shocking ease.

Volgograd, located about 650 kilometers (400 miles) northeast of Sochi, serves as a key transport hub for southern Russia, with numerous bus routes linking it to volatile provinces in Russia's North Caucasus, where insurgents have been seeking an Islamic state.

The city, previously called Stalingrad, also serves as an important symbol of Russian pride because of a historic WWII battle in which the Soviets turned the tide against the Nazis.

Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for Russia's main investigative agency said Monday's explosion involved a bomb similar to the one used in Sunday's bombing at the city's main railway station.

"That confirms the investigators' version that the two terror attacks were linked," Markin said in a statement. "They could have been prepared in one place."

Markin said that a suicide attacker was responsible for the bus explosion, reversing an earlier official statement saying that the blast was caused by a bomb that had been left in the vehicle's passenger area.

At least 14 people were killed and nearly 30 were wounded, according to public health officials.

Officials did not name names and no one has claimed responsibility for either bombing, but they came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov threatened new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including Olympics in Sochi in February.

The explosion ripped away much of the bus's exterior and shattered windows in nearby buildings. It virtually paralyzed public transport in the city, forcing many residents to walk long distances to get to work.

Russian authorities have been slow to introduce stringent security checks on bus routes, making them the transport of choice for terrorists in the region. A few months ago authorities introduced a requirement for intercity bus passengers to produce ID when buying tickets, like rail or air passengers, but procedures have remained lax.

Even the tight railway security is sometimes not enough. In Sunday's suicide bombing the attacker detonated in the crowd in front of the station's metal detectors.

Suicide bombings and other terror attacks have rocked Russia for years, but in recent years most of them have been confined to the North Caucasus region. The successive attacks in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, signaled that militants may be using the transportation hub as a renewed way of showing their reach outside their restive region.

A suicide bus bombing in Volgograd in October killed six people.

On Friday, three people were killed when an explosives-rigged car blew up in the city of Pyatigorsk, the center of a federal administrative district created to oversee Kremlin efforts to stabilize the North Caucasus region.

In Sunday's railroad station blast, the bomber detonated explosives just beyond the station's main entrance when a police sergeant became suspicious and rushed forward to check ID, officials said. The officer was killed by the blast, and several other policemen were among some 40 people wounded.

Following Sunday's explosion, the Interior Ministry ordered police to beef up patrols at railway stations and other transport facilities across Russia.

Putin on Monday summoned the chief of the main KGB successor agency and the Interior Minister to discuss the situation, and sent the former to Volgograd to oversee the probe.

Russia in past years has seen a series of terror attacks on buses, trains and airplanes, some carried out by suicide bombers.

Twin bombings on the Moscow subway in March 2010 by female suicide bombers killed 40 people and wounded more than 120. In January 2011, a male suicide bomber struck Moscow's Domodedovo Airport, killing 37 people and injuring more than 180.

Umarov, who had claimed responsibility for the 2010 and 2011 bombings, ordered a halt to attacks on civilian targets during the mass street protests against President Vladimir Putin in the winter of 2011-12. He reversed that order in July, urging his men to "do their utmost to derail" the Sochi Olympics which he described as "satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors."

The International Olympics Committee expressed its condolences over Sunday's bombing in Volgograd, but said it was confident of Russia's ability to protect the Games.

Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov said Monday there was no need to take any extra steps to secure Sochi in the wake of the Volgograd bombings, as "everything necessary already has been done."

Russian authorities have introduced some of the most extensive identity checks and sweeping security measures ever seen at an international sports event.

Anyone wanting to attend the games that open on Feb. 7 will have to buy a ticket online from the organizers and obtain a "spectator pass" for access. Doing so will require providing passport details and contacts that will allow the authorities to screen all visitors and check their identities upon arrival.

The security zone created around Sochi stretches approximately 100 kilometers (60 miles) along the Black Sea coast and up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) inland. Russian forces include special troops to patrol the forested mountains flanking the resort, drones to keep constant watch over Olympic facilities and speed boats to patrol the coast.

The security plan includes a ban on cars from outside the zone from a month before the games begin until a month after they end.

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Hello Sean ;) December 30 2013 at 12:51 PM

"While the media has concentrated on the threat such groups pose to February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, no scrutiny has been given to a warning issued by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan back in August when he told Vladimir Putin that Saudi Arabia would activate the Chechen terrorist groups it controls to target Russia if Moscow refused to abandon its support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad."

So the Saudi's are up to their tricks again.

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1 reply
annette.testa Hello Sean ;) December 30 2013 at 3:01 PM

Yeah, the media only disinforms and only responds if world events may impinge on our "bread and circus" mentality.

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rflan61537 December 30 2013 at 11:09 AM

So sad ... why can we not live together in peace?

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1 reply
jmf345 rflan61537 December 30 2013 at 11:15 AM

not as long as there are muslims in the world

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1 reply
Eric jmf345 December 30 2013 at 11:55 AM

Let's not lump everyone together. There is a difference between Islamists and Muslims.

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tortflt December 30 2013 at 12:46 PM

We can not expect other countries to listen to us if we cant take care of ourselves

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jaxboxing December 30 2013 at 4:57 PM

The Religion of Peace Strikes Again! At Least 30 Innocent Russians Murdered in Back to Back Homicide Bombings by Islamic Terrorists.

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1 reply
talari jaxboxing December 30 2013 at 5:22 PM

I think we've killed more innocent Arabs than they have killed us innocent "civilized people". And we've murdered over 100 to 1 on the battlefield. As Obama says, "We're willing (and perpetuating) the war on terror."

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2 replies
sailcatter talari December 30 2013 at 5:49 PM

And the number who were accidentally killed by us, just because they were in harm's way, doesn't come close to the number deliberately and sadistically killed by the Taliban

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grgrytckr talari December 30 2013 at 6:54 PM

You sir are a despicable idiot. If you condone terrorism you need to seek professional help. I served in the war on terrorism ( Afghanistan) and believe me the bad guys we killed were identified and were all linked to the Taliban. That is not murder so keep your mouth shut on a subject that you have no knowledge of. Cowards like you live behind your words and are not willing to fight when your called out. Real men defend this country so idiots like you can post unrealistic comments with made up statistics like you just did.

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tortflt December 30 2013 at 12:32 PM

The First thing we need to do is control our borders!

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1 reply
endmillll tortflt December 30 2013 at 5:17 PM

You should call the three stooges,, OBAMA and BIDIN and BLOOMBERG hell there trying to take our guns away as it is you think there going to protect our borders thats good when they wont lets us law obiding citizens to protect our selfs..

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russ_montminy December 30 2013 at 9:51 AM

There is no way to prevent suicide bombings in Sochi. Mr Putin is in big trouble. It's going to happen as sure as night follows day.

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ahrcshaw December 30 2013 at 9:51 AM

This is insane, you would think that in this day and age people would have more compassion for life regardless of Religious beliefs. Say what you want but these crimes against innocent people is just plane murder by fanatics. What is their purpose or goal? is it necessary to just kill and make a splash news report? I see no justice in these tactics, all over the world it is just kill for power.

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borisiak December 30 2013 at 2:45 PM

This is the new price the Russians must pay for freedom. I hate to say it but the ONE thing the commies got right was to ban ALL RELIGIONS. If one still chooses to believe one can do so in the privacy of your home(as it should be anyways) One never heard a beep from the Muslims during the communist times or the Orthodox, Budhists, or Jews(well except maybe get me outta here)

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goldenhlls December 30 2013 at 4:51 PM

Freakin radical muslims. I read on a post here that they are looking for "justice." Ha. Their idea of justice is for everyone to be bound by Shayria (sp?) law, meaning you live in fear of how you might be perceived or else you will be beheaded. Keep the women in beehive suits, locked indoors or they will be stoned to death. Such a wonderful ideology! Truly a religion of peace. Ha. A bunch of brainwashed morons who evidently weren't fed right as children and their brains didn't develop. I was once told by an Algerian that if I walked the streets there without covering everything but my eyes, and if not accompanied by a male, I would be set upon in the streets and beaten. Lovely people! Freakin' radical muslims.

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Kate December 30 2013 at 2:53 PM

I am terribly sorry for all those innocent victims. The games will probably be safe enough, but Russian citizens clearly are not.

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