Moscow observed an official day of mourning yesterday and nervous commuters returned to the metro, while the death toll from twin suicide bombings on the capital’s underground railway rose by one to 39 people.
Flags across Moscow flew at half-mast and somber Muscovites laid flowers and lit candles at the stations hit by the blasts blamed on North Caucasus rebels.
The police presence was stepped up at Moscow metro stations, and security was tightened on the networks in cities from St Petersburg to Novosibirsk in Siberia, local media reported.
Entertainment programs on radio and television were dropped as Moscow observed the official day of mourning for the victims.
Morning commuters warily entered the busy metro system a day after the rush-hour blasts on packed trains at two central stations — Lubyanka and Park Kultury.
“When I was riding the metro in today, somebody’s electronic watch started beeping and I thought: ‘That’s it,’” said Katya Vankova, a business student.
Makeshift memorials were set up at both stations. At Park Kultury, people left red carnations and tied white ribbons to a stand on the platform close to where the bomb went off. Some commuters crossed themselves as they passed by.
A young injured woman died early yesterday, bringing the death toll to 39, Andrei Seltsovsky, the chief of Moscow’s health department, said on state-run Rossiya 24 television.
He said that 71 other people were still in hospital, five of them in critical condition, and eight of the victims had been identified. Officials said the bombs that caused the carnage were packed with bolts and iron rods.
Some papers said the attack represented a failure of the government’s security policy. They wrote that years of official propaganda had lulled Russians into thinking there was little to fear from the Islamist insurgency in the turbulent and mainly Muslim North Caucasus.
The bombings — one at Lubyanka station that serves the nearby headquarters of the Federal Security Service, which is responsible for protecting Russia’s citizens — underscored the country’s vulnerability to militants.
Russian police were yesterday hunting for clues from the North Caucasus over the origins and the identities of the two female suicide bombers who set of the explosions.
All that remained of the two women were fragmented body parts after they detonated explosives strapped to their bodies within a space of half an hour early on Monday.
The popular but well-connected Life.ru news Web site published grainy but macabre photographs of what it said were the severed heads of the two corpses, which it said would now form a major part of the police investigation.
It said that the first blast at Lubyanka station had been so strong that all that was left of the bomber were her head and legs. The second at Park Kultury was less powerful.
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