Moscow mourns Russia airport bombing victims

AFP , Wednesday 26 Jan 2011

Grieving Russians in Moscow mourn the victims of the deadly suicide bombing that killed 35 people, as Medvedev heads to Davos to calm investors

People put flowers at a site of a blast at Domodedovo airport near Moscow, Tuesday, 25 January 2011. (AP)

Moscow on Wednesday held a day of mourning for the 35 people killed in a suicide bombing at its main airport as President Dmitry Medvedev headed to Davos to convince investors Russia can defeat terror.

Grieving Russians were lighting candles and bringing flowers to the Domodedovo airport where a suicide bomber slaughtered 35 people and wounded dozens Monday afternoon, television footage showed.

Major TV channels were expected to suspend entertainment programming as Russians queued to donate blood to help treat the wounded.

Overall, 116 injured remained hospitalised as of Wednesday morning, the emergencies ministry said, adding that of the 35 killed, 34 have been identified.

Medvedev, who said that terrorism remained the main security threat to Russia, has cut short his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos where he had been expected to lead the country's pitch to investors.

"In connection with the tragedy the programme of my visit to Davos has been considerably cut," Medvedev said in an interview with Vedomosti, one of Russia's top business dailies.

He added however that he did not want to cancel the Davos visit altogether "because it is a very important global venue to present our position," he told the newspaper hours after the blast.

Medvedev had initially been scheduled to fly to Switzerland on Tuesday and speak on a number of topics including Russia's plans to build world-class skiing resorts in its troubled North Caucasus region.

Under the current plan, Medvedev will spend just several hours at the ski resort meeting businessmen and making the opening speech at the forum before returning to Moscow Wednesday evening.

The authorities are under pressure after failing to prevent Moscow's second devastating attack in less than a year after the March metro bombings.

Vedomosti said the fact the new suicide bombing would likely not lead to resignations of the top brass aroused "bewilderment".

Some 1,200 people have died in terror acts when Nikolai Patrushev served as head of Russia's FSB security service between 1999 and 2008, while nearly 200 people have died since Alexander Bortnikov took over from Patrushev in 2008, the newspaper said.

Attacks on government officials and police in the Northern Caucasus, where Russia fought two wars with separatists, are almost a daily occurrence. But Islamist leaders have in recent months pledged to bring their attacks to Russia's heartland.

Monday's blast was Moscow's second attack in less than a year. Last March, double bombings carried out by two female suicide bombers on the Moscow metro killed 40 and wounded more than 100, marking the deadliest violence in the Russian capital since 2004.

A source in the country's security service FSB, speaking to the top opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, chalked up the increase in violence to the power struggle among various Islamist groups in the Caucasus.

"There is a feeling that there will soon be other attempts to pull off something similar," the source was quoted as saying.

The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper said the organisers of the Monday bombing also planned a devastating attack on New Year's Eve but it was thwarted when the suicide bomber accidentally blew herself up.

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