A Russian bombing in the major southern city of Volgograd on Sunday has claimed at least 16 lives and renewed fears that additional attacks may be forthcoming as the country prepares to go center stage in February for the Olympic Winter Games.
According to ABC News via Yahoo! on Sunday, it was the country’s worst terrorist attack in nearly three years, prompting Vladimir Putin to order a tightening of security at transport hubs as the Sochi games approach.
At 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, local time, at least one terrorist attacked a railway station, setting off an explosive device that killed a confirmed 16 and injured at least 40 others. Officials believe more deaths may be reported.
In typical Russian fashion, investigators remain mum regarding exact details surrounding the attack, prompting conflicting media stories to surface. Russian news media outlet Interfax said the bomber "was a man who carried explosives into the station in a rucksack," and that the terrorist's identity had been confirmed.
Other investigators have since said the attacker was a woman who set off her suicide device when she was stopped by a policeman at the station's entrance after the port's metal detector went off.
“According to preliminary information, the attack was carried out by a female suicide bomber who on approaching the line of metal detectors saw police officers around her, lost her nerve and detonated an explosive device including incendiary elements,” Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said in a statement on Sunday.
The blast, which reportedly came from 20 pounds of TNT, blew out the front windows of a huge Stalin-era structure near the entrance to the rail lines. Video of the blast was recorded and rebroadcast by the state-funded RT network.
One police officer was among the dead, and a nine-year-old girl was severely injured.
Officials say a "severed female head" found near the blast may be that of the bomber.
Azamat Suleymanov, an officer at the Interior Ministry of Dagestan, named a known female terrorist as the possible suspect.
"For legal reasons we cannot yet say that we are 100 percent sure, but we are almost confident that it was Oksana Aslanova, a Dagestani citizen," he said. "We have her on file. She was a widow whose husband died in a special operation conducted by our forces. She was then married a few times more, always to terrorists."
Other officials contradicted the officer's statement, saying they have not made any conclusions.