Woman arrested in Moscow for murder after brandishing child's severed head

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Shocking Sight: Woman Carries Severed Head

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian police wrestled to the ground a woman in a hijab brandishing the severed head of a child outside a Moscow metro station on Monday and charged her with murder, in an incident that stirred fears of an Islamist terrorist attack.

The macabre episode was caught on camera by passers-by, with footage showing the unnamed woman in a black hijab wandering around in the street holding an infant's severed head high in the air.

"I am a terrorist, I want your death," she can be heard screaming in heavily accented Russian in a rambling tirade in which she appears to criticize democracy and talk about the end of the world.

Investigators said they thought the woman, who they said was from a Central Asian country, had been working as a nanny for a Moscow family and had murdered a child in her care before setting fire to the family's flat and fleeing.

The child was three or four years old, they said.

"Given the clearly inadequate behavior of the detainee, investigators swiftly ordered her to undergo psychiatric tests to establish whether she is capable of understanding the significance of her actions," Moscow's investigative committee said in a statement.

Russian news agencies cited an unnamed police source as saying the woman appeared to have been under the influence of psychotropic drugs.

Photos of the scenes of the alleged crime:

9 PHOTOS
Nanny arrested for waving severed head in Moscow
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Woman arrested in Moscow for murder after brandishing child's severed head
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. FEBRUARY 29, 2016. Windows of an apartment in Narodnogo Opolcheniya Street set on fire by a woman suspected of killing a 4-year-old child. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. FEBRUARY 29, 2016. A woman walks past a residential building in Narodnogo Opolcheniya Street where a woman suspected of killing a 4-year-old child set an apartment on fire. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. FEBRUARY 29, 2016. Police officers seen by a residential building in Narodnogo Opolcheniya Street where a woman suspected of killing a 4-year-old child set an apartment on fire. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. FEBRUARY 29, 2016. Members of the Russian Interior Ministry's engineer combat group at Oktyabrskoye Pole Station on the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line of the Moscow Metro where a woman suspected of killing a 4-year-old child was detained. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. FEBRUARY 29, 2016. Police officers seen near Oktyabrskoye Pole Station on the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line of the Moscow Metro where a woman suspected of killing a 4-year-old child was detained. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. FEBRUARY 29, 2016. Employees of the Russian Investigative Committee near an entrance to Oktyabrskoye Pole Station on the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line of the Moscow Metro where a woman suspected of killing a 4-year-old child was detained. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
Russian police officers secure the area near a subway station in Moscow on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Russian news agencies report that police have arrested a woman who was waving the severed head of a small child outside a Moscow subway station. The Investigative Committee released a statement saying a woman was arrested Monday on suspicion of killing a child aged 3 or 4 in an apartment near the metro station in northwestern Moscow and then setting the apartment on fire. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA. FEBRUARY 29, 2016. A police officer seen near Oktyabrskoye Pole Station on the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line of the Moscow Metro where a woman suspected of killing a 4-year-old child was detained. Artyom Geodakyan/TASS (Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images)
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TERROR FEARS

With frequent warnings from government officials about the danger that Islamic State militants pose to Russia and a long history of terrorist attacks in Moscow, some onlookers thought they were witnessing an act of terror.

One eyewitness, a reporter from the RBC.ru news portal, said she heard the woman screaming "Allahu Akbar" (Islamic phrase meaning God is Great or Allah is Greater).

"I was on my way to the metro station from home," Polina Nikolskaya, the reporter, told Reuters.

"She was standing near the metro entrance and caught my attention because she was screaming Allahu Akbar. I saw that she had a bloodied head in her arms, but I thought it was not real. People in the crowd said it was real."

Lifenews.ru, an online news portal with close contacts to the police, said a policeman had first approached the woman to check her documents near the Oktyabrskoye Pole metro station in the north-west of the Russian capital.

The woman had responded by removing the child's head from a bag and shouting that she had killed the infant, it said, saying she had also threatened to blow herself up.

Footage of the incident showed a policeman wrestling the woman to the ground before a group of colleagues helped restrain her.

Some rights activists warned of a possible backlash against migrant workers from Central Asia who have in the past been targeted for beatings by far-right groups.

Security services are on high alert for a possible terrorist attack after a Russian passenger plane was blown out of the sky above Egypt in October, killing all 224 people onboard. Islamic State said it was responsible and had acted to avenge the Kremlin's decision to launch air strikes in Syria.

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