Russian officials have blamed terrorists for planting a homemade bomb on the tracks of the main line Moscow-to-St. Petersburg route causing a derailment that killed at least 26 people and injured dozens more.
The head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, Alexander Borotnikov, was quoted by local news agency Interfax as saying that an improvised explosive device had detonated when the train passed over it Friday night about 9.30pm. Remains of the device were found at the site of the crash, Borotnikov said.
Witness accounts appeared to back up reports of a bomb blast.
Terrorism has been a major concern in Russia since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, as Chechen rebels have clashed with government forces in two wars and Islamist separatists continue to target law enforcement officials.
The last three carriages of the 14-car Nevsky Express careered off the tracks Friday night as the train approached speeds of 200km/h, officials said. More than 600 passengers were on the train when it derailed near the border of the Novgorod and Tver provinces. The rural area is 400km northwest of Moscow and 250km southeast of St. Petersburg.