Po­lice seek bomber’s pos­si­ble ac­com­plices

Kyr­gyz with ‘in­ter­est’ in rad­i­cal Is­lam is sus­pected

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY IRINA TI­TOVA AND VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

ST. PETERS­BURG, RUS­SIA | In­ves­ti­ga­tors searched for pos­si­ble ac­com­plices of a 22-year-old na­tive of the Cen­tral Asian coun­try of Kyr­gyzs­tan iden­ti­fied as the sui­cide bomber in the St. Peters­burg sub­way, as res­i­dents came to grips Tues­day with the first ma­jor ter­ror­ist at­tack in Rus­sia’s sec­ond-largest city since the Soviet col­lapse.

The bomber, Ak­barzhon Dzhalilov, had lived in St. Peters­burg for sev­eral years, work­ing as a car re­pair­man and later at a sushi bar. Pages on his so­cial me­dia net­works re­flected his in­ter­est in rad­i­cal Is­lam and box­ing, but those who met Dzhalilov de­scribed him as a calm and friendly man.

Rus­sia’s health min­is­ter raised the death toll to 14, in­clud­ing the bomber. About 50 oth­ers re­mained hos­pi­tal­ized, some in grave con­di­tion. Many were stu­dents head­ing home Mon­day af­ter classes on one of the city’s busy north-south lines.

No one has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the bomb­ing, which came as Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin was vis­it­ing his home­town, rais­ing spec­u­la­tion it could have been timed for his trip. The at­tack fol­lows a long string of bomb­ings of Rus­sian planes, trains and trans­porta­tion fa­cil­i­ties. Many of the at­tacks were linked to rad­i­cal Is­lamists.

Be­fore Dzhalilov trav­eled to St. Peters­burg, where he even­tu­ally got Rus­sian ci­ti­zen­ship, his eth­nic Uzbek fam­ily lived in Osh, the city in south­ern Kyr­gyzs­tan that saw more than 400 peo­ple killed and thou­sands in­jured in clashes be­tween eth­nic Kyr­gyz and mi­nor­ity Uzbeks in 2010.

St. Peters­burg has a large di­as­pora of peo­ple from Kyr­gyzs­tan and other mostly Mus­lim for­mer Soviet re­publics in Cen­tral Asia. They have fled eth­nic ten­sion, poverty and un­em­ploy­ment for jobs in Rus­sia. While most Cen­tral Asian mi­grants hold tem­po­rary work per­mits or work il­le­gally, thou­sands have re­ceived Rus­sian ci­ti­zen­ship in re­cent decades.

Rus­sian me­dia said Dzhalilov worked with his fa­ther in a car re­pair shop and then be­came a cook at one of the city’s many sushi bars. He stayed in St. Peters­burg when his par­ents moved back to Kyr­gyzs­tan.

One for­mer col­league at the sushi chain de­scribed Dzhalilov, who turned 22 on Satur­day, as “a very kind per­son.”

“He was a non­con­flict per­son. We didn’t ex­pect to hear such news today,” said the woman, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause she feared for her per­sonal safety.

Neigh­bors in Osh also de­scribed him as a nice and friendly man.

Dzhalilov vis­ited his home coun­try about a month ago, and un­like past trips, when he trav­eled di­rectly back to St. Peters­burg, he re­turned via Moscow. In­ves­ti­ga­tors are look­ing into whether he met pos­si­ble ac­com­plices in Moscow, ac­cord­ing to Rus­sian me­dia re­ports.

Se­cu­rity cam­eras caught the be­spec­ta­cled Dzhalilov as he en­tered the sub­way, ap­pear­ing calm and clad in a red parka with a fur col­lar and blue wool hat. He wore a back­pack be­lieved to hold the bomb that was loaded with me­tal balls and screws for max­i­mum dam­age.

The In­ves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee, Rus­sia’s top in­ves­tiga­tive agency, said it also found Dzhalilov’s DNA on a bag with a sim­i­lar bomb that was found and de­ac­ti­vated at an­other sub­way sta­tion shortly af­ter the blast.

Se­cu­rity ex­perts have de­scribed peo­ple from Cen­tral Asia as fer­tile re­cruits for rad­i­cal Is­lamist preach­ers, who have be­come in­creas­ingly ac­tive on so­cial net­works. Dzhalilov fol­lowed some rad­i­cal Is­lamist pages on Rus­sian so­cial net­works, and me­dia re­ports quoted in­ves­ti­ga­tors al­leg­ing he was linked to the Is­lamic State group.

Mr. Putin has said that be­tween 5,000 and 7,000 peo­ple from Rus­sia and other for­mer Soviet re­publics were fight­ing along­side the Is­lamic State group and other mil­i­tants in Syria. He has named the Is­lamic State threat as one of the rea­sons be­hind Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary cam­paign in Syria.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

An Ortho­dox priest blesses a sym­bolic me­mo­rial at Tech­no­logich­eskiy In­sti­tute metro sta­tion in St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia, a day af­ter a bomber killed sev­eral peo­ple and wounded many more in a sub­way sui­cide at­tack.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.