Moscow’s Chief of Police has reportedly said he believes this morning’s two explosions on the Moscow metro system were caused by suicide attackers detonating devices. Reports so far indicate that 37 people were killed. The Times is reporting that a senior Russian official has stated that the explosions were caused by two female suicide attackers.
The first attack occurred during Monday morning rush hour at 0750 local time in the Lubyanka railway station, killing 19 people both on the platform and on an incoming train reports the NYT. This might imply that the attacker was on the platform, but its likely too early to say anything for certain. Forty minutes later a second explosion occurred inside the second carriage of a train in the Park Kultury station, killing 14. Both stations are on the Red (Sokolnicheskaya) subway line.
Of course this is not the first time the Moscow underground system has been targeted. In February 2004 a male attacker, detonated a device on the metro’s Green line, killing 41 and injuring 120. Later in August 2004 a female attacker apparently panicked and prematurely detonated herself outside another metro station, killing ten people including her handler.
It seems likely that these attacks will prove to the work of Chechen or Ingush militants. As I noted previously (here, here and here), in Autumn 2009 there was a spate of new suicide attacks against Russian targets in Ingushetia, most of which were claimed by the Riyad-us-Saliheen (Gardens of the Righteous) Martyrs’ Brigade. The use of female attackers, if true, is certainly consistent with Chechen militants’ modus operandi for suicide operations.
It would appear that, if the same group is responsible, they have shifted their focus away from striking targets on their own ground to hitting the Russian capital. Whether they have the capacity to mount a campaign in Moscow remains to be seen.