After St Petersburg metro bombing, 2 police dead in attack in south Russia

Published 05.04.2017 01:02

Two traffic police were killed in an attack by radical militants in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan, the regional governor said Tuesday, the day after a suicide bomber allegedly hit the Saint Petersburg metro.

"Last night, a group of radical[s].. carried out a brazen attack on employees of the traffic police," Alexander Zhilkin said in a statement. "The culprits opened fire on them with firearms and fled. Unfortunately, two traffic police officers died on the spot."

Astrakhan regional police said the incident occurred at about 1:00am local time (2200 GMT) after traffic police were dispatched to the scene of an accident.

The attackers were in one of the cars involved in the accident. The police statement made no mention of the attackers' motives or identity.

The Astrakhan region lies on the Caspian Sea and also borders the restive Caucasus region of Dagestan. While attacks against police regularly occur in Russia's Caucasus, they are much rarer in other regions.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber was behind a blast on the St. Petersburg subway that killed 14 people, Russian investigators said yesterday, while authorities in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan identified a suspect as a Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen.

Russia's health minister raised the death toll from 11 to 14 and said 49 people are still hospitalized.

Russia's top investigative body said in a statement that investigators have identified a man whose body parts were found on the train and who is suspected to be a suicide bomber. Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security identified one suspect as Kyrgyz-born Russian national Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, aged between 21 and 22. It was not immediately clear if the two statements related to the same person. The Interfax news agency on Monday said authorities believe the suspect was linked to radical groups and carried the explosive device onto the train in a backpack.

Russia might need foreign help in its investigation of the deadly bombing on an underground train in St Petersburg, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. He confirmed that investigators suspect the perpetrator was a suicide bomber, according to comments carried by state media.

People from Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian former Soviet republics are common sites in St. Petersburg, home to a large diaspora of migrants who flee poverty and unemployment in their home countries for jobs in Russia. While most Central Asian migrants in Russia have work permits or work illegally, thousands of them have received Russian citizenship in the past decades.

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