U.S. transit raises security after Moscow subway bombings

  • Mon Mar 29th, 2010 10:50pm
  • News

Associated Press

NEW YORK — U.S. transit agencies beefed up security as a precaution Monday after the double suicide bombing in Moscow’s subway system, sending more police into stations and officers to conduct random inspections of rail yards.

In New York, caravans of police vehicles were dispatched to transit hubs. In Washington, D.C., Metro police conducted random inspections of stations and rail yards, officials said. Atlanta’s public transit system said its police department increased the number of officers and patrols throughout the system.

In Chicago, police and transit workers watched closely for any suspicious activity or behavior, said transit authority spokeswoman Kim Myles. Representatives of transit agencies in Boston and Philadelphia said they believed their normal security practices were vigilant enough to protect the riding public.

Russian authorities said two women blew themselves up in Moscow on Monday at subway stations jam-packed with rush-hour passengers, killing 38 people and wounding more than 60.

Monday’s first explosion took place just before 8 a.m. local time at the Lubyanka station in central Moscow, beneath the secret police’s headquarters.

About 45 minutes later, a second blast hit the Park Kultury station on the same subway line, which is near Gorky Park.

In both cases, the bombs were detonated as the trains pulled into the stations and the doors were opening.

Russian authorities blamed the carnage on Chechen rebels. Russian police have killed several Islamic militant leaders in the North Caucasus recently, including one last week in the Kabardino-Balkariya region, which raised fears of retaliatory strikes and escalating bloodshed by the militants.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who built much of his political capital by directing a fierce war against Chechen separatists a decade ago, promised to track down and kill the organizers of what he called a “disgusting” crime.

“The terrorists will be destroyed,” he said on national television.

The U.S. government did not immediately make any recommendations for increased security at mass transit systems, but authorities were monitoring the situation, a U.S. official said.

Caucasus Islamic separatists tend to be focused on targets in the region, primarily Russia, and are not generally considered a threat to U.S. domestic interests.

“The actual Chechen rebels generally don’t care about the U.S. one way or the other,” said Jeffrey Mankoff, an adjunct fellow for Russian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “They are mainly interested in what’s happening in Russia.”

Subways have been an attractive target for terrorists, supplying them with many victims in a tight space and fairly limited security measures, he said.