Bomb Blast Kills Dozens At Moscow Airport
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
It is Moscow's busiest airport and today, its international terminal was the scene of a massive explosion. Russian officials say a bomb exploded at Domodedovo Airport. Up to 35 people are reported to have been killed. President Dmitry Medvedev said those behind the attack would be hunted down and punished. 150 people were also injured in the blast.
Although no one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, there's been a long series of similar attacks in Russia. Those attacks have been blamed on militants who support independence for Muslim republics in Russia's Caucasus region.
David Greene has been at the airport all day and he joins us now. David, it sounds like things have calmed down a bit at the airport.
DAVID GREENE: Michele, it's almost surreal how calm things have gotten at this airport. I want to play a little bit of an airport announcement that's been playing all afternoon and began just after the bombing took place.
(Soundbite of announcement)
Unidentified Woman: (Speaking foreign language)
GREENE: That's telling people that the airport is operating normally. And it's amazing because it was anything but that earlier today when this huge bomb exploded in the international arrivals terminal.
NORRIS: It almost reminds you of that old British adage, keep calm and carry on. What do you know about what actually happened in the explosion?
GREENE: Well, we're really trying to collect the details. The Russian government suggests this was a suicide bombing and there's a Russian official who spoke to the Interfax news agency here in Russia saying that the remains of the suspected bomber were found. But they haven't - no one has claimed responsibility for this yet, as has been the case in previous attacks in Russia.
We've been talking to witnesses here in this surreal scene. You know, this busy terminal where some people were going and getting their flights and others are still talking about what took place. I want to play a little bit from a 30-year-old named Artiyon Jelenkov(ph). He was in the airport meeting his colleague, who was arriving from Dusseldorf and he was right in the thick of it. You know, he had flesh and blood on his head. And here's what he remembered from when the bomb went off.
Mr. ARTIYON JELENKOV: (Through translator) This man came into the center, then there was an explosion. I remember, I noticed a suitcase there, too. Either the man exploded or the suitcase. Then, just torn bodies. People who could stand up ran outside. It was bad.
NORRIS: David, this arrivals area where this took place, was this before passengers would go through any kind of screening?
GREENE: Well, if you think about an international airport, Michele, this one is just like a lot of others. I mean, you go through the routine. You arrive, you go through immigration, then you collect your luggage and you come through customs and you come out and meet people. And it was people who were going through that routine, grabbing their luggage and coming out to meet a crowd of people who - that's the area where we think this took place.
NORRIS: You know, the notion that the airport continued running, despite this carnage today, will be surprising, I think, to many of our listeners. I'm wondering what sort of response you actually expect to see and hear from Russian leadership after today's events.
GREENE: Yeah. It was really surprising to me but, you know, it's very Russian. This is how the government responded to the twin bombings on the Moscow subway last spring. I mean, they got that subway running almost immediately. They want to show a sense of toughness, a sense of, you know, we're not going to lie down in the face of these kinds of attacks.
But I think Russian officials are going to face a lot of questions. I mean, even in the wake of some attacks in the past, the airport security here was lax enough to allow this to happen. Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, has already cancelled his trip to the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland. And he says he's going to go after these people. But I think Russian leaders will be facing some questions in the days ahead.
NORRIS: And no claims of responsibility as of yet?
GREENE: Not yet. In the past we've seen claims and attacks like this from militants, from the volatile north Caucasus region, southern Russia, where there's an Islamist insurgency brewing, but so far, no claim on this attack, Michele.
NORRIS: David, thank you very much.
GREENE: Thank you.
NORRIS: THAt's NPR's David Greene speaking to us from Moscow.
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