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Deadly Explosion Rocks St. Petersburg Subway Station

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An explosion in the St. Petersburg subway system left at least 9 people dead and dozens injured on Monday, Russian anti-terrorism officials said.

There were initial reports of another blast, but Russian authorities only confirmed one explosion. State media initially put the death toll at 10, but Russia’s National Anti-terrorist Committee said nine people were killed. The committee said another device was found unexploded in the subway system and disarmed.

he St. Petersburg prosecutor’s office declared the incident a terrorist attack. It came as President Vladimir Putin visited St. Petersburg -- his hometown and Russia’s second-largest city.   

Ambulances gathered at the entrance to the Sennaya Ploshchad metro station in the heart of St. Petersburg. According to officials, the device -- according to some reports, packed with shrapnel -- was detonated between Sennaya and the next station, called “Technical Institute.” 

Social media users posted photographs from one subway station in the city center, showing people lying on the floor and a train with a mangled door nearby.

Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been informed about the explosion. Putin is visiting the city Monday and is expected to hold talks with the Belarusian president later in the day.

Putin reportedly confirmed that there were deaths in the blast, which he said was being investigated as possible terrorism. He offered his condolences to the victims’ families.

Uber and other taxi services reportedly ran out of available cars in St. Petersburg Monday after the attack as people tried to make their way out of the city. 

In October 2015, Russian security officials said they had thwarted an alleged plot to launch a terror attack on Moscow’s public transportation system, with support from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Officials said the group involved in the planning comprised 12 Russian citizens, including at least one who had been trained in Syria.  All were men in their 20s from Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia where an Islamic insurgency still simmers after two separatist wars. 

Hundreds of Russian nationals, many from the restive Northern Caucasus, have traveled to Syrian and Iraq to fight alongside ISIS and other extremist groups, and many are believed to have returned to Russia. 

The deadliest attack to target Russian nationals in recent years was the ISIS-claimed bombing of a commercial airliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The blast and ensuing crash left 224 people dead, and most of the passengers were Russian tourists.

CBS Radio News correspondent Alec Luhn noted Monday that ISIS has declared a presence in the Northern Caucasus. 

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