Putin thanks Trump for tip Russia says foiled attacks

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Sunday it had thwarted terrorism attacks reportedly planned in St. Petersburg thanks to a tip from Washington, bringing personal thanks again from President Vladimir Putin to his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

Russian news agencies cited the Federal Security Service (FSB) as saying that thanks to the information, two Russians were detained on Dec. 27 on suspicion of plotting attacks during New Year festivities in St. Petersburg.

The Kremlin said Putin passed on his gratitude to Trump during a phone call on Sunday for the tip from U.S. special services. It gave no more details.

Diplomatic ties between Washington and Moscow are fraught over disagreements from Ukraine to Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, but Trump and Putin have managed to keep personal lines open.

Two years ago, the Russian leader also phoned Trump to thank him for a tip that Russia said helped prevent a bomb attack on a cathedral in St Petersburg. Russia has repeatedly been the target of attacks by militant groups including Islamic State.

Sunday’s Kremlin statement said Putin and Trump agreed to continue bilateral cooperation to tackle terrorism.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Alison Williams and Andrew Cawthorne)

Kremlin says U.S. tip-off about planned attack ‘saved many lives’

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov arrives for the meeting with officials of Rostec high-technology state corporation at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia December 7, 2017.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A U.S. tip-off about a planned attack in St. Petersburg helped save many lives and Russia and the United States should try to cooperate in the same way in future, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Washington provided intelligence to Russia that helped thwart a potentially deadly bombing, U.S. and Russian officials said on Sunday, in a rare public show of cooperation despite deep strains between the two countries.

“It cannot be called anything but an ideal example of cooperation in fighting terrorism,” Peskov told reporters at a conference call. “We should aim for such standards.”

The tip-off resulted in the detention of seven alleged supporters of the Islamic State militant group in St. Petersburg last week, Peskov said.

Russia’s Federal Security Service said on Friday that IS had planned attacks in public places on Dec. 16 and weapons and explosives were found when the suspects were searched.

Peskov said Russian and American security services have contacts but this was the first time when their cooperation was so efficient. “This was very meaningful information that helped to save many lives,” the spokesman told reporters.

Asked if President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump and Putin had discussed a possible meeting, Peskov replied that the issue “had not been brought up yet”.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Russia metro bombing suspect says he was unwitting accomplice

People mourn next to a memorial site for the victims of a blast in St. Petersburg metro, at Tekhnologicheskiy institut metro station in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

By Polina Nikolskaya and Hulkar Isamova

MOSCOW/JALAL-ABAD, Kyrgyzstan (Reuters) – The man Russian investigators say orchestrated a suicide bombing on the St Petersburg metro told a court on Tuesday he was an unwitting accomplice in the attack, in which 14 people were killed and scores injured.

Russian investigators said that before the April 3 attack, the suspected suicide bomber, Akbarzhon Jalilov, had spoken by telephone with Abror Azimov, who the investigators said was helping mastermind the attack from a Moscow suburb.

At a preliminary court hearing in Moscow, the suspect, Azimov, said he had participated in the preparation of the attack but only indirectly.

“I did not realize that I was helping with this act,” he said, referring to the April 3 blast. “I was being given instructions.” Dressed in a black jacket and checked shirt, he spoke from a metal cage in the courtroom.

Earlier in the court hearing, a state investigator told the court that Azimov had confessed to having taking part in preparations for the attack, but the suspect said he had not confessed to that.

Since the attack, Russian authorities have detained nine people suspected of involvement. All are originally from Central Asia, a region of five mainly Muslim states that border Afghanistan, Iran and China.

Abror Azimov is originally from the city of Jalal-Abad, in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan. His wife said on Tuesday that Azimov and his brother, Akrom, had been working in a sushi restaurant in the Moscow region. He had been due to return home to Kyrgyzstan in April, but did not make the trip.

ISLAMIST TRAINING CAMP?

Her husband was “calm and well-adjusted”, the wife, her head covered by a scarf, told Reuters in Jalal-Abad.

She said his brother Akrom had returned home from Moscow because he was sick, adding that he had been taken from hospital for questioning by Kyrgyz state security.

Russia’s Ren TV broadcaster, citing law enforcement agencies, reported that Azimov, along with the St Petersburg suicide bomber, had attended a radical Islamist training camp. It did not say where the camp was located.

Azimov’s wife and another brother, Bilol, told Reuters he had traveled to Turkey but was only in transit there on his way home after an abortive attempt to find work in South Korea. The family, though Muslims, rarely went to the mosque, Bilol said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened on a day that Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting St Petersburg, his native city.

If it is proven that the bombing was carried out by radical Islamists, that could pose a test for Putin’s policy of military intervention in Syria. The Islamic State group has threatened to take revenge for Russian air attacks on Syria by shedding blood on Russian soil.

(Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Vladimir Soldatkin and Gareth Jones)

Russian authorities hunt metro bomber accomplices; several detained

People mourn next to a memorial site for the victims of a blast in St. Petersburg metro, at Tekhnologicheskiy institut metro station in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

By Polina Nikolskaya

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) – Russian authorities detained several people in St Petersburg on Thursday after finding an explosive device in one residential building and said they were investigating suspected accomplices of the man behind this week’s deadly metro bombing.

Bomb disposal experts made the explosive device found at the apartment building safe after evacuating people living in flats on two stairwells.

“We were told: the house is mined, get out quickly,” one woman, who only gave her name as Tatiana and lives in the building, told Reuters.

Another resident, who gave his name only as Anatoly, said he had seen police detain four young men occupying an eighth floor apartment next to his own.

St Petersburg is still reeling after a bomb ripped through the city’s metro on Monday, killing 14 people and injuring 50.

The attack, which authorities say was carried out by a Kyrgyz-born Russian citizen, has put renewed focus on the large number of emigres from mostly Muslim central Asian states, who have moved to Russia to work.

Russia’s state investigative committee, a body with sweeping powers that is looking into the bomber’s background, said in a statement it was looking into the backgrounds of people it suspected of being accomplices.

It said it had identified several people of central Asian origin who had been in touch with Akbarzhon Jalilov, the main suspect. A search of the suspects’ homes had turned up objects that were important for the investigation, it said.

Russian news agency Interfax reported that investigators had detained several people suspected of being Jalilov’s accomplices.

It was unclear if those detained at the site of Thursday’s bomb scare were the suspected accomplices identified by the investigative committee.

(Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Alexander Winning in Moscow; Writing by Sujata Rao; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Blasts in St. Petersburg, Russia metro stations kill 10

An injured person stands outside Sennaya Ploshchad metro station, following explosions in two train carriages at metro stations in St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – At least 10 people were killed in explosions in two train carriages at metro stations in St. Petersburg on Monday, Russian authorities said.

Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying one of the blasts was caused by a bomb filled with shrapnel.

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 underway to find out. He said he was considering all possibilities including terrorism.

A Reuters witness saw eight ambulances near the Sennaya

Ploshchad metro station.

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

 

An injured person is helped by emergency services outside Sennaya Ploshchad metro station, following explosions in two train carriages at metro stations in St. Petersburg.

An injured person is helped by emergency services outside Sennaya Ploshchad metro station, following explosions in two train carriages at metro stations in St. Petersburg. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

A huge whole 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.

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 taking by islamist militants. In 2002, 120 hostages were killed when police stormed a Moscow theater to end another hostage taking.

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

(Editing by Ralph Boulton)