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St Petersburg metro blast blamed on Kyrgyz suicide bomber

14 dead and 49 injured in apparent attack on Russian city, as Putin says security services investigating 'all possible causes'
Doors are blown outwards from a blast on a metro train (screengrab)

A suicide bomber from Kyrgyzstan was behind the explosion that killed 14 people and injured dozens more in the Saint Petersburg metro, security services in the Central Asian country said Tuesday.

"The suicide bomber in the Saint Petersburg metro was a Kyrgyz national Akbarjon Djalilov... born in 1995," a spokesman for the country's security services told AFP.

"It is probable that he acquired Russian nationality," he said.

A Russian law enforcement source earlier told Interfax that authorities had established the identity of the suspected suicide bomber and that the suspect was a 23-year-old from central Asia who had carried an explosive device into the St Petersburg metro in a rucksack.

President Vladimir Putin, who was in St Petersburg for a meeting with Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko, said the cause of the blasts was not yet clear and efforts were under way to find out. He said he was considering all possibilities including terrorism.

No individual or group has claimed the apparent attack. 

A man who was captured on surveillance cameras and earlier suspected of involvement in the blast came forward to police and said that he played no role, Interfax reported.

Shortly after the attack, videos showed injured people lying bleeding on a platform, some being treated by emergency services. Others ran away from the platform amid clouds of smoke.

A huge hole was blasted in the side of one carriage with mangled metal wreckage strewn around the platform. Passengers were seen hammering at the windows of one closed carriage.

Authorities closed all St Petersburg metro stations. The Moscow metro said it was taking unspecified additional security measures in case of an attack there.

Russia has been the target of attacks by Chechen militants in past years. Chechen rebel leaders have frequently threatened further attacks.

Chechen fighters have volunteered in large numbers to join militant groups in Syria, where Russia has supported President Bashar al-Assad with an air campaign since September 2015.

At least 38 people were killed in 2010 when two female suicide bombers detonated bombs on packed Moscow metro trains.

Over 330 people, half of them children, were killed in 2004 when police stormed a school in southern Russia after a hostage situation by militants. In 2002, 120 hostages were killed when police stormed a Moscow theatre to end another hostage taking.

Putin, as prime minister, launched a 1999 campaign to crush a separatist government in the Muslim majority southern region of Chechnya, and as president continued a hard line policy in suppressing the rebellion.