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Moscow Airport Bombing kills 35: Domodedovo security “soft”

January 25, 2011

A suspected ‘black widow’ is said to be behind the suicide blast in Russia’s busiest Domodedovo International Airport in which at least 35 were killed and 178 injured, reports said today.

One of the eyewitnesses questioned by the investigators said he had seen how the hand baggage of a woman dressed in black exploded, according to Interfax.

“The eyewitness declared that the young woman was dressed in black and the explosives were in the bag or suitcase on the floor next to her,” a source was quoted as saying by the agency.  It said the security agencies were aware of the possible terror attacks, and were looking for ‘Black Widows’ of the slain militants from the Caucasus, who had carried out all suicide attacks in past, including twin blasts in Moscow metro stations in March 2010.

Investigators say that the bomb blast in the arrival hall overnight, which killed at least 35 people and injured more than 100, was detonated by a suicide bomber.

Airports around the world are likely to boost security checks in the wake of Monday’s deadly bombing in Moscow, experts say.

Eyewitnesses describe horrific scenes.

WITNESS (translated): I just raised my head and here came the blast. There were many cries and somebody made a shout starting with the sound “aaahh”, and this was followed by the explosion. I saw the suitcase, the man was on fire, I saw the man from behind, so either the man blew up something or something went off on the man’s body or the suitcase went off.

WITNESS 2: The two who were clearly dead covered up and one of them was sprawled over two baggage carts side by side and then we saw between six and seven wounded come out who were definitely unable to walk, mostly leg injuries, some chest injuries, lots of things sticking out of legs.

In March 2010, two female Chechen suicide bombers blew themselves up in the metro system, killing 40. In 2004, two suicide bombers boarded separate planes at the same airport and blew themselves up in midair, killing all 90 people aboard the two flights.
No group has claimed responsibility but Russian authorities are vowing to find those responsible, and to tighten security.

Chris Yates, an independent British aviation security consultant, said he had been arguing for years that airport security had been neglected in the rush to stop terrorists getting onto planes. “Many airports are wide open to anyone walking in and blowing themselves up. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Domodedovo's airport terminal prior to the bombing

Experts say it is significant that those who masterminded the attack chose to bomb the arrivals hall of the airport — Moscow’s busiest — because it was an easier target than the heavily-policed departures area.

“Arrivals has always been thought of as the ‘soft’ area of an airport,” explained CNN’s Richard Quest.

Some of the post-Sept 11 airport measures such as body scanners and intensive frisking spawn long queues, which in themselves offer a tempting ready made target for an on-ground militant attack, counter-terrorism specialists say.

The post-Sept 11 dash for more aviation security also missed the point that militants change their tactics constantly to stay a step ahead of authorities, so heightening in-flight security was always going to be an incomplete tactic, they argue.

Domodedovo is the largest airport in Russia in terms of passenger and cargo traffic (22.25 million passengers used the airport in 2010, which is a 19.2% increase over 2009), and is one of the three major Moscow airports along with Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo.

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