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30 Mar, 2010 09:08

Chechen terrorist claims responsibility for deadly Moscow Metro bombings

Chechen warlord Doku Umarov has claimed responsibility for the Moscow Metro blasts. In a statement posted on a pro-militant website, he declared that the attacks were revenge and promised more acts of terrorism to come.

Families of the the 40 people have begun to bury their loved ones. Dozens of others remain in hospital, with several in a critical condition.

The law enforcement bodies are searching for the supposed accomplices of the two suicide bombers – a Caucasian man, between 180-185cm tall, and two Slavic women.

Russia's President and Prime Minister are now linking the twin bombings in Moscow and Dagestan, saying they are part of the same chain of terrorism.

…as for the criminals, all of them will be found and eliminated…

The terrorist attacks in Moscow and Dagestan are all links of the same chain, all this is the manifestation of the same terrorist activity which has recently started to resurface in the Caucasus. The terrorists' goal is to destabilize the situation in the country, destroy civil society and spark fear and panic among the population. We will not allow this. And everything that will be done will be aimed at bringing together our nation. As for the criminals, all of them will be found and eliminated,” Dmitry Medvedev said.

As Russia's leaders vow to wipe out those behind the attacks, security forces continue to hunt for the organizers, believed to be North Caucasus militants. According to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, all options are being considered:

“We know [the terrorists] are lying low, but it is a question of honour now for our law enforcement to drag them out from the bottom of the sewers. I am sure this will happen,” said Vladimir Putin.

Doku Umarov should be arrested and face trial, rather than be killed, Sergey Markedonov from the Institute for Political and Military analysis told RT.

“Umarov must not be liquidated personally, but judged. This way it would be better to discredit him as a leader of extremists. If liquidated he would become a hero not only for extremists in the Caucasus but in other parts of Russia,” Markedonov said.

President Dmitry Medvedev said there are a number of measures to be done. In general, Russia needs to rethink its security and that does not only mean security on the streets and outside of the cities, but also internal security to be more liable for people in case of such tragedies.

“People want to live normal human lives, no matter where they live – inside of Russia, North Caucasus or somewhere else,” Dmitry Medvedev said. “And our goal, the goal of the federal government and the regional authorities of the Caucasus is to create such conditions. Only in this situation could those who chose a path of crime adapt to normal life.”

…we all understand that terrorism has no nationality…

“We all understand that terrorism has no nationality. Terrorism is first and foremost aimed at creating chaos, destabilization and causing pain. The events that took place show that terrorists are targeting all kinds of goals,” commented Russia’s Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev. Nurgaliev urged that “attention [be paid] to all vital infrastructure objects as well as places where there are many people, such as schools, colleges, universities, cinemas, and to put local police stations on high alert.”

The suicide blasts in the Moscow Metro sparked worldwide condemnation, with many stressing that terrorism is a shared global threat.

Crisis management specialist Peter Power says the bombings in Russia have parallels with scores of similar attacks in other countries.

“Most if not all people have to travel by train so immediately its high impact is visual. What we saw in Russia – within minutes the images were around the world very quickly. And the terrorists know that; the terrorists want that. For months, for weeks, for years after today I expect security on the Moscow Metro will be tightened up, people might be searched. The sheer inconvenience of that will remind people of the terrorist threat. That’s why they bomb railway stations. But it’s not just Moscow, it’s throughout the world. ”

Courage and grief in spotlight as Moscow copes with the blasts

The Russian capital is doing everything it can to cope with Monday’s tragedy.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has thanked the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill for his support of the victims of the bombings.

Putin said the help of the Church was very important to those affected by the acts of terror.

Priests have been visiting the injured in hospital to aid their psychological recovery.

The funerals for the victims of the bomb blasts have started, and thousands of people have been visiting the metro stations to pay tribute, lighting candles, laying flowers and icons.

For Anton Shirokov, a medical intern who survived the explosion and gave first aid to the injured, it is a very different sight from the one he witnessed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

…first I froze and didn’t move, then people started screaming, crying, moaning…

“I was standing near this spot when the explosion took place,” Anton said, pointing to stairways just meters away from the place where the bomb went off. “My first reaction was panic and absolute shock. First I froze and didn’t move, then people started screaming, crying, moaning.”

Despite the terrible injuries sustained by many of the victims, Anton was able to put his skills as a medical intern to good use.

“As I was coming out I saw a girl sobbing and realized I had to help her. When I got outside, ambulances had already started to arrive, then police and the rest of the emergency services,” Anton recalled.

Anton’s is a story of survival and courage. And out of the tragedy, more stories like his are emerging.

The scenes of people returning to the metro so soon after the attacks are a mark of defiance against these acts of terrorism.

Many of the people who lost their lives in the attack were people like Anton – young men and women on their way to work, university and schools located close to the Park Kultury metro.

Those who survived will remember the day forever.

For one family, March 29 will be remembered only as the day they lost their son.

Seva Makarevich, 29, usually drove to work, but on Monday he was on the platform at the Park Kultury station when the bomb exploded.

…you really cannot understand the pain until it happens to you…

“Seva phoned us at 8:20 a.m. to ask his girlfriend, who was home at that time, to find out on the Internet why the trains were so slow in the metro,” said his father, Vladimir Makarevich. “She called him back 15 minutes later saying that there’d been a terror attack at Lubyanka station. He usually changed lines at Biblioteka Lenina station, but she advised him to get out at Park Kultury station. He said, ‘Fine, I’m just arriving and will get out soon.’ That’s it. And when we called him again, his mobile was blocked.”

He was on the opposite side of the platform when the bomb exploded, but the force of the blast hit Seva and killed him. Seva lived with his parents in order to help them in their old age. For them, the loss is immeasurable.

“You always hope that this sorrow and disaster won’t happen to you. And sincerely, you really cannot understand the pain until it happens to you. I began to worry, because 3-4 hours already passed and he could have phoned us. Suddenly his mobile unblocked, I tried to call him again, but nobody responded. Then I lost my heart and all my body began to tremble,” Vladimir Makarevich said.

“He was such a kind and good person, always helping people and never saying anything about it. I am going to cry everyday until I die. I can’t bear that I’ve lost my son,” mother, Nina Makarevich said.

Read also: Muscovites still scared of taking Metro rides