Moscow mourns airport bombing victims

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Moscow on Wednesday held a day of mourning for the 35 killed in a suicide bombing at its main airport as President Dmitry Medvedev fired a senior official for security lapses that allowed the tragedy.

Grieving Russians were lighting candles and bringing flowers to the Domodedovo airport where a suicide bomber slaughtered 35 people and wounded dozens Monday afternoon.

Churches, mosques and synagogues across the country held services for the victims, Russians queued to donate blood to help treat the wounded, while major TV channels were expected to suspend entertainment programming.

Medvedev, who was scheduled later in the day to head to Davos to convince investors Russia can defeat terror, announced he had fired a senior transport official and threatened more dismissals in the future.

"All the officials responsible for organising the (security) process must be brought to their senses," he said in televised remarks.

"Those who did not work properly must be punished," Medvedev said, saying that he dismissed the head of the interior ministry's transport administration for the Central Federal District, Andrei Alexeyev.

Russian authorities are under pressure after failing to prevent Moscow's second devastating attack in less than a year.

But critics say top officials in charge of security almost never lose their posts and Medvedev and Premier Vladimir Putin's regular tough-talk in the aftermath of terror attacks delivers few results.

Vedomosti business daily said earlier in the day that the fact the new suicide bombing would likely not lead to resignations of the top brass aroused "bewilderment".

Some 1,200 people have died in terror acts when Nikolai Patrushev served as head of Russia's FSB security service between 1999 and 2008, while nearly 200 people have died since Alexander Bortnikov took over from Patrushev in 2008, the newspaper said.

Patrushev is now head of the Kremlin's Security Council.

Overall, 116 injured including nationals of Slovakia, Germany, Italy, France, Nigeria, and Uzbekistan remained hospitalised, the emergencies ministry said

Of the 35 killed, 34 have been identified, the ministry said.

Medvedev, who said that terrorism remained the main security threat to Russia, was later in the day set to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos to lead the country's pitch to investors, even though his initial programme has been cut short following the attack.

He had initially been scheduled to fly to Switzerland on Tuesday and speak on a number of topics including Russia's plans to build world-class skiing resorts in its troubled North Caucasus region.

Monday's attack bore all the hallmarks of militants from the Caucasus who have been behind a string of attacks in Russia over the last years.

Medvedev will spend just several hours at the ski resort meeting businessmen and making the opening speech at the forum before returning to Moscow Wednesday evening.

Attacks on government officials and police in the Northern Caucasus, where Russia fought two wars with separatists, are an almost daily occurrence. But Islamist leaders have in recent months pledged to bring their attacks to Russia's heartland.

Monday's blast was Moscow's second attack in less than a year.

Last March, double bombings carried out by two female suicide bombers on the Moscow metro killed 40 and wounded more than 100, marking the deadliest violence in the Russian capital since 2004.

A source in the country's security service FSB, speaking to the top opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, chalked up the increase in violence to the power struggle among various Islamist groups in the Caucasus.

"There is a feeling that there will soon be other attempts to pull off something similar," the source was quoted as saying.

© 2011 AFP

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