Severed head found at Moscow airport thought to belong to suicide bomber
The severed head of a suspected suicide bomber was located Monday after a massive bomb ripped through a bustling Russian airport, killing at least 35 people and injuring at least 168 people.
The explosion brought devastation to the arrivals hall of Domodedovo Airport, the busiest of Moscow's three airports, at 4:32pm local time.
Law enforcement officials told the RIA Novosti news agency that the bomb, which was detonated close to a cafe, had the equivalent power of five kilos (11 lbs) of TNT. It was packed with metal objects to maximize the potential damage.
Sky News reported that a British citizen, and possibly a second, were killed, citing the Russian Prosecutor's Office. An Italian and a Frenchman were among the estimated 130 people injured, 20 of whom were gravely ill, Russian media said.
"Burned people are running about ... they are carrying pieces of flesh on stretchers," a shaken eyewitness named Andrei was quoted as saying by AFP.
"Me and my colleague were thrown against the wall, we were hit hard. We were only saved by the fact that there were a lot of people around us," said rental company worker Alexei Spiridonov.
"We jumped up and tried to help [the] wounded. Body parts lay around, there was blood everywhere. It was an awful picture," he told Russia's LifeNews
News reports in Russia suggested the atrocity was the work of one, or possibly two, suicide bombers who may have had assistance from several accomplices.
The Interfax news agency said that a severed head found at the bomb site, a "meet and greet" area accessible to the public, was believed to be that of the bomber.
"We found the head of a man of Arab appearance, aged 30 to 35. It seems he detonated the explosive device," a law enforcement source told the agency.
Further Russian reports said that three men were being hunted by authorities, who described the bombing as an "act of terror."
RIA Novosti suggested security agencies had been tipped off about the attack but were unable to stop it.
"The special services had received information that an act of terror would be carried out at one of the Moscow airports," a security source told the state-run news agency.
"Agents were seeking three suspects but they managed to access the territory of the airport, witness the explosion which their accomplice carried out and then leave the airport," the source reportedly said.
Planes from Dusseldorf, Odesa and London landed at Domodedovo shortly before the attack. A British Airways plane arrived there 46 minutes before the explosion and a Bmi (British Midland International) flight touched down just minutes earlier.
Britain's Foreign Office was urgently trying to confirm whether or not any of those killed were British.
The airport is used by United Airlines but State Department spokesman, David Siefkin, told Fox News that to his knowledge, no US citizens were hurt. However he added that officials were monitoring the situation.
No group claimed responsibility for Monday's attack but Russia is battling a Muslim insurgency in the North Caucasus, and previous terror attacks have targeted Moscow.
President Barack Obama led global condemnation of the bombing, calling it "outrageous” and vowing to stand against those who use terror tactics.
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "deeply shocked and saddened" by the bloodshed.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the current NATO secretary-general, condemned the bombing on his Twitter account.
"Deeply disturbed about the terror attack in Moscow and I strongly condemn it. NATO and Russia stand together in the fight against terrorism," he posted.
Meanwhile, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev ordered a security blitz across the country's transport hubs.
Measures were heightened at Moscow's other two passenger airports, with all luggage being searched and staff examining footage from terminal security cameras. Police were also checking subways and busy pedestrian areas, Interfax said.
"We mourn the victims of the terrorist attack at Domodedovo airport. The organizers will be tracked down and punished," Medvedev said.
The Russian premier had been scheduled to fly to Switzerland for this week's World Economic Forum in Davos but he postponed his trip.
Last March, Moscow was targeted by two female suicide bombers, both from the North Caucasus region of Dagestan, who killed 40 people in coordinated attacks on the city's subway network during the morning rush hour.
Domodedovo is located 26 miles (42 km) from central Moscow. It hosts 77 airlines with more than 22 million passengers estimated to have traveled through the airport in 2010.