Russian authorities have foiled a plot by militants to attack a bullet train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, a local newspaper reported on Monday.
According to the Kommersant newspaper, the militants were building fertilizer bombs in a suburban apartment and were from the North Caucasus. Russia’s top security official had described the alleged plot to President Dmitry Medvedev last month as a “large terrorist attack” targeting transport, said the report.
The Kremlin has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency in its mostly Muslim North Caucasus regions. The insurgents have claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed 26 people on a Moscow-St. Petersburg train in 2009 as well as for suicide bombings that killed 37 people at Moscow’s busiest airport in January and 40 in the metro in March 2010.
Kommersant reported that the suspected mastermind is a 22-year-old native of the North Caucasus province of Kabardino-Balkaria. He is suspected of having recruited at least three other men to help carry out the attack on the high-speed train connecting Russia’s largest cities.
A source in the Federal Security Service (FSB) told the paper the group made bombs out of ammonium nitrate in a rented apartment near the busy railway line, and had planned to place one on the tracks 20 kilometers north of Moscow.
Kommersant said the suspected mastermind had recruited two men with whom he played soccer and another man he had met at a mosque.
They had identified a “relatively deserted” spot where “it would be safe to lay a bomb at night,” said the report.