LATEST: SECURITY SOURCE SAYS VOLGOGRAD BOMBERS “CAME FROM NORTH CAUCASUS”
Amid criticisms that the Russian security services failed to anticipate the terrorist attacks, and have been unable to capture the perpetrators, President Vladimir Putin paid a high-profile visit to Volgograd on Wednesday.
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Interfax reported that Putin traveled to the city to “to hold a meeting on the issue of combating terrorism.”
That the President made the trip on New Year’s Day — an important holiday in Russia — underscored the message that the Russian leadership is taking counter-terrorism measures extremely seriously, though there have been no new breakthroughs in the investigations into the attacks, and reports of those who supposedly carried them out have been confused. The National Antiterrorism Committee originally said the perpetrator of the first bombing was a female suicide bomber, while the Investigative Committee of the Russian Interior Ministry later said the attacker could have been a man.
“The abomination of the crimes committed here in Volgograd does not require further comments. Whatever motivated the actions of the criminals, there is no excuse for crimes against civilians, especially women and children,” Putin was quoted as saying.
The President added, “Russian special forces, via special operations, are doing everything to ensure the safety of civilians and primarily women and children.”
The meeting was attended by the head of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, and the Interior Minister, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, as well as local police and FSB chiefs from the Volgograd region.
Following the meeting, Putin visited victims of the attacks in the Volgograd hospital.
62 VICTIMS REMAIN IN HOSPITAL, 4 CRITICAL
RIA Novosti reports that 62 victims of the bombings remain in hospital, four in a critical condition. 44 of the victims are in Volgograd hospitals while the others have been evacuated to Moscow.
On Wednesday evening, two young girls wounded in the attacks were evacuated from Volgograd to a children’s hospital in Moscow, and were described as “critical but stable”. The first of the girls, a nine-year-old, was injured in the explosion in the railway station. Her mother was also injured. The second child, a three -month-old, was injured in the trolleybus explosion. Her mother and grandmother were killed.
Security Source Says Volgograd Bombers “Came From North Caucasus”
A Russian security source has told Interfax that the perpetrators of the two suicide bombings in Volgograd on December 29 and 30 “arrived in the city from the North Caucasus”.
“A provisional pattern of the circumstances of the incident has been established, when the attacks were committed. According to preliminary information, as indicated by a series of clues, the suicide bombers who carried out the bombings at the railway station in Volgograd and on trolleybus number 15, were not trained in the Volgograd region and arrived in the region, presumably, with a specific task to destabilize and commit suicide bombing with a large number of dead and wounded.”
The source hinted that the bombers were from Dagestan or Chechnya (but likely the former), by telling Interfax that, according to preliminary information, the terrorists trained in “one of the Russian Federation’s North Caucasus regions of the Russian Federation where federal forces continue active elimination of members of illegal underground gangs”.
So how did the perpetrators manage to get to Volgograd without being noticed by the security forces in charge of eliminating them? The source explained that, to reach the Volgograd region unnoticed, the bombers could have used “backroads, bypassing the busiest routes, on which there are police officers”.
Sochi Streets Deserted For New Year Celebrations, As Residents Fear Terror Attacks
The streets of Sochi, the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, were deserted on December 31 and January 1, as residents stayed home for the New Year celebrations, fearing terror attacks in the city in the wake of the two attacks that rocked Volograd, killing 36 people on December 29 and 30.
After the incident in Volgograd, Sochi resident Viktoria Levtsova told said she was too afraid to go beyond her own backyard.
“I cannot explain this feeling. But inside me is anever-present fear after the series of attacks in Volgograd. I really wanted to take a walk on for New Year in Sochi. But somehow I don’t feel right. I walk near the house with my kids. I don’t dare go into town. I’m afraid to ride in public transport,” Levtsova told a reporter from Kavkazskii Uzel.
Another resident, Igor Malyshenko, said that due to the large number of police officers and the climate of fear among residents, there’s a feeling of martial law in Sochi.
“The mood is bleak. What kind of holiday is it when the country is in mourning after the attacks? I reckon Sochi is no less of an attractive target for terrorists. No wonder so many police are here… But there’s little sense in it. Are they trained to prevent terrorist attacks? They say that we should not be in public places. I went to the store for sparkling wine, and I’m going straight home.”