Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed a crackdown after a supermarket bomb injured 10 people in St. Petersburg, the latest in a series of attacks linked to Islamic extremists that have targeted his home city.
Putin said Thursday that he’d ordered the head of the Federal Security Service, in case of a threat to officers’ lives, “to act decisively, not to take any prisoners, to liquidate bandits on the spot,” in remarks at a televised ceremony with veterans of Russia’s military campaign in Syria.
The device that blew up late Wednesday in Russia’s second-largest city contained an explosive force equivalent to 200 grams of TNT, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee said in a website statement. A man of non-Slavic appearance, who was recorded on security cameras, left the bomb in a backpack inside a locker in a Perekrestok supermarket before fleeing the scene, the Fontanka news service reported.
The attack came after Putin thanked U.S. President Donald Trump last week for information passed on by the Central Intelligence Agency that he said helped break up an Islamic State cell plotting to bomb St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral and other locations in the city. The tip-off saved “many lives,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.
In April, 14 people died in the St. Petersburg subway after a suicide bombing by a radical Islamist who was born in the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan. It marked the first major attack targeting Russia since October 2015, when Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bomb that downed a plane carrying Russian tourists from Egypt to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 on board.
The plane attack came a month after Putin ordered Russia’s military to begin operations in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebel groups in that country’s civil war. Russian officials have warned that several thousand militants from Russia fighting in Syria could return to stage attacks following the defeat there of Islamic State. When Putin ordered the Russian offensive in Syria, he said the goal was to destroy extremists and stop that from happening.