The Moscow massacre:

Briton among dozens killed in airport suicide attack

 

Moscow

A suicide bomber blew himself up inside the arrivals hall of Moscow’s busiest airport yesterday, as terror once again struck in the heart of Russia.

The attack killed at least 35 people and injured around 170. There was at least one British victim among the dead.

Witnesses at Domodedovo airport said that the bomber shouted: "I will kill you all," before triggering the blast that sent ball-bearings and shrapnel across the international arrivals hall at around 4.30pm local time (1.30pm GMT), shortly after two flights from the UK had landed.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President, promised to track down those responsible for the blast. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on militants from the North Caucasus, where the Russian authorities are engaged in a battle with Islamic militants.

The Foreign Office this morning confirmed that Gordon Cousland, a British citizen, had died in the attacks. They were said to be “urgently investigating” reports of a second British victim. The Russian authorities said there had been two Britons killed in the blast.

British Airways and BMI use the airport and both had flights landing within an hour of the blast. Witnesses spoke of an all-engulfing pall of smoke, which broke to reveal a horrific scene.

“It was a huge sound, and suddenly I could see bodies everywhere. I don’t know how many. Maybe 10, maybe 20,” said Alexei Spiridonov, an airport worker who was just a few dozen metres away from the blast. “It was about a minute and a half before people started running in to help.”

Photographs taken in the immediate aftermath of the blast and posted onTwitter showed bodies and severed limbs strewn across the floor, as well as pools of blood and small burning fires. Within a couple of minutes, the airport medical and police teams were on hand, some using baggage trolleys to wheel out the injured. Later, dozens of ambulances ferried them to hospitals across Moscow.

“Everyone around me died,” said Artyom Zhilenkov, 30, a driver who was waiting for an arriving passenger from Dusseldorf. His clothes were caked with dried mud and blood. “The guy standing next to me was torn to pieces,” he told The Independent.He attributed his survival to dunking himself in icy water last week in an Orthodox Christian ritual, but admitted to being shaken up. “I’ve been scared to go on the Metro becauseof the bombs there; now they’re bombing the airports,” he said.

Mr Spiridonov said that he believed most of the victims would have been people waiting to meet passengers off the flights. Taxi drivers usually congregate at the point where passengers exit from baggage reclaim, trying to drum up custom. Mark Green, who had just arrived on a BritishAirways flight, said he heard the huge explosion as he left the terminal.

“Literally, it shook you,” he said. “A lot of alarms… were going off and people started flowing out of the terminal, some of whom were covered in blood,” he told the BBC. “One gentleman had a pair of jeans on that was ripped and his thigh from his groin to his knee was covered in blood.”

Mr Medvedev has called the rebellion in the North Caucasus region the biggest threat to the security of Russia. It is led by Doku Umarov who says he wants to create an Islamic caliphate across the restive North Caucasus region.

Militants have vowed to take the bombing campaign to Moscow and attack transport and economic targets.

The Interfax news agency, citing law enforcement sources, said the head of the suspected bomber had been found at the scene, and Russian television reported that he had been a man aged between 30 and 35, who had an “Arabic” appearance; possibly from the North Caucasus.

Moscow suffered its worst attack in six years in March 2010 when two female suicide bombers from Dagestan set off explosives in the Metro, killing 40 people. The Russian leadership has staked its reputation on quelling the rebellion.

Vladimir Putin, now the Prime Minister, launched a war in 1999 to regain control over Chechnya, but the insurgency continues and has spread to neighbouring regions. Occasionally, the fight comes to Moscow, such as in last year’s Metro bombings, or in 2004, when Domodedovo was again the target.

Then, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in midair, having boarded two flights that took off from the airport, after bribing security officials to let them on to their planes without checks.

“Security will be strengthened at large transport hubs,” Mr Medvedev wrote on Twitter yesterday. “We mourn the victims of the terrorist attack at Domodedovo airport. The organisers will be tracked down and punished.”

In Washington, President Barack Obama condemned the “outrageous act of terrorism” in Moscow.

Extraordinarily, within an hour of the blast, the airport was back running at full capacity, with arriving international passengers passing through the same hall.“They’ve just covered up the blast area in tarpaulin,” said one British woman arriving from London three hours after the blast. “Everything was normal at passport control but there was a horrible smell and we could see some smashed shop windows.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea