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Saint Petersburg Suicide Bomber Tied to Radical Islamists

The suspected perpetrator of a suicide bombing in a St Petersburg subway station Monday had ties to radical Islamist groups, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

The Interfax report drew on a law enforcement source who also said that that an investigation of the blast scene suggested that a suicide bomber was responsible for the explosion that killed 14 people and injured 49 more.

Kyrgyzstan’s security service GKNB identified the suspected bomber as Akbarzhon Jalilov, a 22-year-old Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen. The GKNB also said that the Islamic State may have been involved in the terror attack.

Kyrgyzstan was a Soviet republic until it gained its independence in 1991. The mostly Muslim country with a population of some six million is a close political ally of Russia. Kyrgyzstan’s security services said they are “maintaining contact with the Russian secret service for further investigation.”

Not long after the bombing, Islamic State supporters began celebrating the attack on social media, although they have not yet claimed responsibility for the act.

One ISIS supporter claimed that the attacks were carried out in revenge for Russia’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s fight against ISIS and other rebel groups in Syria’s civil war.

The Islamic State recently published a poster showing a jihadi blowing up the Kremlin, accompanied by the message “kill them where you find them.”

Russia’s transport infrastructure has been repeatedly targeted by Islamist terror groups based in the North Caucasus over the past two decades.

In October, 2015, a bomb on board a civilian airliner travelling from Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg killed 224 people, many of them Russians on holiday.

On that occasion, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, calling it retaliation for Russia’s military intervention in Syria.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter

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