Russia orders security crackdown after bombings

2013-12-31 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered new security measures across Russia following two suicide attacks killed dozens of people within two days in the southern city of Volgograd.

Local residents remain concerned however after Monday's attack on a trolley bus killed 15 people and Sunday's blast at the main train station took at least 18 lives.

Security forces are seen in Volgograd around what was once a blue and white trolley bus, powered by overhead electric cables.

It is now reduced to a twisted, gutted carcass. Bodies have been seen across the street after a suicide bomber reportedly blew himself up in the bus during rush-hour.

DOZENS KILLED

It came hours after a similar attack on the main train station. More than 30 people are now known to have died in those attacks, prompting President Vladimir Putin to react.

In remarks aired by Russia Today television, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov confirmed that security has been stepped up.

“We are putting our forces on high alert in the entire region. Also as President Putin ordered, every family that suffered from these attacks will be compensated,” he said.

"We are also establishing constant air communication with Volgograd and from there we will be transporting all the injured to Moscow, St. Petersburg and other regions," the minister added.

SURVIVORS SHOCKED

Yet the measures have done little to ease the pain of anxious residents, including survivors of Monday's trolley bus attack. "The explosion came totally unexpected, I didn't understand it" a visibly upset man recalled.

"Everywhere was glass, windows were blown away. We went there to help victims. Others also helped. They put some of the injured passengers in their cars and rushed them to hospital," he said.

Militants fighting for an Islamic state have been blamed for the recent suicide attacks after a Chechen warlord threatened to interrupt the Winter Olympics in the Black sea resort of Sochi.

Analysts say militants wanted to send a message by targeting Volgograd as is the site which will host several football matches during the 2018 World Cup.

Additionally the city is seen as important for Russians' sense of national identity since, when known as Stalingrad, its Soviet defenders held off German invaders to turn the course of World War II.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report: