The explosion at a supermarket in Russia's second-largest city was a terror attack, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, adding that he has ordered security agencies to kill terror suspects on the spot if they resist arrest.
Officials said 13 people were injured Wednesday when an improvised explosive device went off at a storage area for customers' bags at the supermarket in St. Petersburg. Investigators said the device contained 7 ounces of explosives and was rigged with shrapnel to cause more damage.
While Russian law enforcement agencies stopped short of immediately describing the blast as a terror attack, Putin did not mince words Thursday at a Kremlin awards ceremony for Russian troops who fought in Syria.
"You know that yesterday a terror attack was conducted in St. Petersburg," Putin said. He went on to note that another attack was thwarted recently, a reference to an alleged series of bombings in St. Petersburg that a CIA tip helped prevent, according to the Kremlin.
Putin said he told the chief of Russia's main domestic security agency, the FSB, that agents who encounter resistance from terror suspects should "liquidate bandits on the spot."
No one has claimed responsibility for the supermarket bomb. Eight of the injured remained hospitalized.
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, would not offer any specifics on what led Putin to declare the attack an act of terrorism. The shrapnel that was part of the explosive device proved the explosion "was a terror attack anyway."
Storage boxes at all Perekrestok supermarkets in St. Petersburg were removed following the attack. Other chains said they would tighten security measures.
Earlier this month, Putin telephoned President Donald Trump to thank him for what the Kremlin described as a CIA tip that prevented more bombings in St. Petersburg, Putin's hometown.
The Federal Security Service said seven suspects linked to the Islamic State group were arrested in connection to the alleged plot. The Kremlin said the suspects had planned to bomb Kazan Cathedral and other crowded sites.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
At least 10 people were injured by an explosion at a supermarket in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city and the site of a deadly subway bombing this year.
The Investigative Committee, the nation’s top investigative agency, said a device containing 7 ounces of explosives went off at a storage area for customers’ bags. It said the device was rigged with shrapnel to cause more damage.
No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion at a branch of the Perekrestok supermarket chain in the city’s northwest Kalininsky district.
Alexander Klaus, the chief of the local branch of the Investigative Committee, said 10 people were hospitalized with injuries.
Andrey Kibitov, a spokesman for St. Petersburg’s governor, tweeted that the injured were in satisfactory condition and one had been discharged from the hospital.
A criminal investigation was launched.
While officials stopped short of branding the explosion as a terror attack, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee that oversees anti-terror efforts in Russia said it was coordinating the search for suspects.
Viktoria Gordeyeva, a St. Petersburg resident who walked past the supermarket shortly after the explosion, said people were afraid to enter other stores in the area.
“There was no panic, but people were reluctant to enter a nearby drug store and a grocery store,” Gordeyeva said.
Another local resident, Marina Bulanova, a doctor, heard the explosion and rushed to the market to help treat anyone who might be hurt. She said ambulance crews already had taken those injured to city hospitals by the time she got there.
Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month to thank him for a CIA tip that helped thwart a series of bombings in St. Petersburg, Putin’s home town.
The Federal Security Service, or FSB, said seven suspects linked to the Islamic State group were arrested in connection to the alleged plot. The Kremlin said the arrested suspects had planned to bomb St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral and other crowded sites.
In April, a suicide bombing in the St. Petersburg’s subway left 16 people dead and wounded more than 50. Russian authorities identified the bomber who blew himself up on a subway line as Akbardzhon Dzhalilov, a 22-year old Kyrgyz-born Russian national.