8 dead in Russian terror blast
All eight people killed in the explosion have been identified.
The device, containing as much as two kilos of TNT, is thought to have detonated inside the vehicle.
Police believe a similar homemade bomb ripped through the densely-packed Cherkizovo market in Moscow in August 2006.
More than sixty people, including three children, suffered extensive burns, fractures, and concussion and are being treated in local hospitals, which are being guarded by police.
The explosion took place in the central part of Togliatti at 0812 local time, on the crossroads of the Marx Street and Gagarin Street, near the Cosmos bus stop.
Investigators say they have several theories about the explosion’s cause.
“The main one is that it’s an act of terror. But it could also prove to be a regular crime or a case of mishandling explosives. However, given the circumstances and the number of victims it’s most likely a terrorist attack,” Yury Rozhin, the Head of Security Service of Samara Region says.
The governor of the Samara region, Vladimir Artyakov, has also said that terrorism remains the main motive so far.
“The causes of the blast and the type of the explosive device are being determined. Criminal cases on terrorism, murder, illegal bomb production have been filed. A specially created committee is investigating the incident,” he commented.
First aid for the injured
According to a source from the district's investigators, Russian law enforcement agencies were warned two weeks ago that a notorious militant leader, Doku Umarov, was plotting a large-scale terror act.
President Putin has ordered all measures be taken to help the victims and the Samara region’s local governor has announced Thursday as a day of mourning.
The Deputy Head of the State Duma Security Committee, Viktor Ilukhin, says the explosion was aimed at destabilising Russia ahead of the parliamentary election.
Viktor Nadein-Raevsky from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations believes there might be a link between the blast in Togliatti and the Duma election campaign.
“Of course, it is too early to speak about it, but it is possible. The main idea of terrorism always is just to undermine the leading power in the country. And of course, the election, the President and his campaign and his authority – for them it is in their interests to act against the central power,” he said.
Togliatti, with a population of about 700,000 people, is home to Russia's largest auto major Avto Vaz, which produces cars under the Lada brand.
Aleksandr Pikaev, a political analyst from the Institute for World Economy and International Relations, believes other versions of the attack shouldn’t be ruled out.
“Togliatti is particularly known for its organised crime which does underground business in car spare parts. The city is the home of the largest car producing plant in Russia. Therefore, it’s also possible that organised crime gangs are behind this in one way or another,” he says.
The analyst also adds that as far as is known from governmental reports, the explosive was without shrapnel.
“If they were terrorists, they’d certainly want to maximise the damage. And they use explosives with shrapnel in order to kill more people,” Mr Pikaev said.