Suicide Bomber Kills 15 in Russia, Injures Scores More

Only two days after a car bomb exploded in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, at least 15 people were killed and dozens more wounded Sunday when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at a railway station in Volgograd, Russia. The same town was host to another suicide bombing as recently as October — an attack that left six people dead and wounded another thirty — raising fears of violence ahead of February's Olympic games in nearby Sochi.

Although initial reports suggested that Sunday's attacker was female, officials later said the gender was unclear, and that there was evidence to suggest the bomber could have been a man. According to Russia's Interior Ministry, the bomber aroused police suspicion at the metal detectors at the entrance to the train station, at which point the attacker quickly detonated the explosives, killing a nearby policeman.

A spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee said 14 were killed in the bombing, but Sergei Bozhenov, Volgograd's regional governor, put the death toll at 15. The death count would have been much worse, officials said, had the bomber made it into the central area of the station, and an unexploded grenade was also found at the scene, suggesting a larger-scale attack had been planned. Roughly 50 people were injured, Russia's Health Ministry said, but many victims were saved thanks to taxi drivers who rushed the wounded to nearby hospitals.

No one has, as of yet, claimed responsibility for the attack. But explosions are not uncommon in the region. On Friday, a car bomb exploded in Pyatigorsk — the center of a federal administrative district that's trying to stabilize the tense North Caucasus region — outside a police station, killing three, and in October, a female suicide bomber from the province of Dagestan killed six people in Volgograd. Although a series of attacks was organized by Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov two years ago — two suicide bombings in Moscow in 2010 injured over 120 people and left 40 dead, and in January 2011, a man blew himself up at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport, killing over 30 people — Umarov had called for a temporary halt to civilian-targeted violence. This summer, though, he again ordered his forces to "do their utmost" to destroy the Sochi Olympics, which he has called “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors.”

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The Winter Olympics in Sochi are due to start in early February, and already, a security force of thousands of policemen has been set up to secure the area.

[Photo via AP]