It was a miracle, the authorities said, that nobody was killed in the powerful blast. Two Moscow hospitals were dealing with 24 injured people, including three who were in intensive care. The victims were mostly teenagers, who had been taking advantage of the last free evening before the new school term to play video games and eat hamburgers in the basement of the mall, on Manege Square by the Kremlin.
Top floors of the shopping centre reopened yesterday while the cost of the damage in the amusement section was put at $500,000 (pounds 300,000).
An officer of the Federal Security Service (FSB), showed reporters a leaflet from the self-styled "Union of Revolutionary Writers" which seemed to refer to the bombing. "Acts like those taken today", the pamphlet said "create a social engine which is ... becoming a real social factor. A hamburger not eaten to the end by a dead consumer is a revolutionary hamburger. Consumers, we don't like your way of life and it is unsafe for you."
An electronic address led to the Internet website of "Dmitry Pimenov, son of a Communist", who declared openly that he hated Jews and the police, the FSB spokesman said.
The Manege complex was opened in 1997 as part of lavish celebrations of the 850th anniversary of the founding of Moscow. It quickly became a white elephant. Rich Russians continued to shop abroad while the majority of poor Muscovites could only press their noses to the windows of the boutiques. Given the indecent social divisions fostered by President Boris Yeltsin's bungled reforms, a violent expression of rage against conspicuous wealth would perhaps not be surprising.
However, investigators said they were also considering other theories, including the possibility that it was the work of Chechen militants pushed out of Dagestan last week. Another theory puts the blast in the context of political tensions ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections.