The second bomb: How St. Petersburg metro was cleared of explosives

Police officers are seen through the window of a train at Sennaya Ploshchad metro station which was closed over an anonymous call of a bomb threat after the deadly blast in the underground, in St. Petersburg, April 4, 2017.

Police officers are seen through the window of a train at Sennaya Ploshchad metro station which was closed over an anonymous call of a bomb threat after the deadly blast in the underground, in St. Petersburg, April 4, 2017.

Reuters
Three times more powerful than the bomb that went off, it was disguised as a fire extinguisher and was apparently deactivated by someone acting on their own without the help of trained experts. Here’s what is known about the unexploded bomb at Ploshchad Vosstaniya metro station.

Russia’s second city witnessed a deadly terror attack at 14:40 on Monday, April 3. An unidentified person set off a homemade explosive device inside a metro train carriage in the tunnel between Tekhnologichesky Institut and Sennaya Ploshchad stations. This was the not the only target though, and it soon become clear there was more than one bomb on St. Petersburg’s metro and that the same terrorist, or an accomplice, was responsible. A second device was found in the entrance hall of Ploshchad Vosstaniya station, and it was discovered even before the explosion at Tekhnologichesky Institut.

He defused the bomb and saved lives

The authorities were made aware of an unattended bag on the platform of Ploshchad Vosstaniya station about nine minutes before the explosion at Tekhnologichesky Institut station, according to St. Petersburg news site Fontanka. The device inside the bag was camouflaged – the terrorist had placed the explosive in the casing of a five-liter fire extinguisher.

Presumably, a photo of a neutralized bomb at the metro station 'Ploshchad Vosstaniya'. / Photo: Russian Archives/Global Look PressPresumably, a photo of a neutralized bomb at the metro station 'Ploshchad Vosstaniya'. / Photo: Russian Archives/Global Look Press

"Inside the extinguisher bomb was about one kilo of explosive  and a couple of kilograms of ball bearings which, to increase the force and impact of the blast, had been set in foam insulation," a law enforcement source told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

The bomb, which consisted of two blocks of TNT, a detonator, and shrapnel in the form of ball bearings, turned out to be three times as powerful as the one that exploded at the other station. The story of how it was defused has not yet been confirmed, but there’s talk of a heroic Russian National Guardsman (member of a recently created federal security body with a broad range of powers and its own internal troops –RBTH) singlehandedly deactivating the device.

Train car, where the explosion took place. / Photo: Russian Archives/Global Look PressTrain car, where the explosion took place. / Photo: Russian Archives/Global Look Press

"Here's what happened. Yesterday the explosive device was deactivated by a member of the Russian National Guard who did not wait for the arrival of trained experts. At Ploshchad Vosstaniya station. So he saved not only himself but also an enormous number of civilians," writes Mysh v ovoshchnom (a username that roughly translates as "Mouse in a Greengrocer's Shop") on Telegram.

Odd details

The media are saying that judging by footage from security cameras, the two bombs – the one that went off and the one that was deactivated – were brought into the metro by the same person. But the odd fact remains that the terrorist abandoned the more powerful bomb and, according to one of the theories being considered, blew himself up inside the train car with the lesser device. Anonymous Telegram account Karaulny ("Sentinel") gave the following explanation: "The extinguisher bomb was fitted with a timer...while in the train car the bastard set off the device manually. That is why the large bomb was left behind and the small one was taken onto the train car as a 'backpack'."

But the route chosen by the terrorist – if it was one person – is still puzzling. The stations are some distance away from each other and are on different sides of the city and on different lines. "Doesn't it seem to you an excessively complicated route to have taken?" writes an anonymous commentator on Telegram.

Read more: Russia’s security services face a new type of terrorism