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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

St Petersburg supermarket explosion was a terrorist attack: Putin 

The device was rigged with shrapnel to cause more damage

Police officers and firefighters work at the site of an explosion at a supermarket in St. Petersburg. Anatoly Matlsev / EPA
Police officers and firefighters work at the site of an explosion at a supermarket in St. Petersburg. Anatoly Matlsev / EPA

The explosion at a supermarket in Russia's second-largest city was a terrorist attack, president Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, adding that another attack had been thwarted.

Putin made his comment at an awards ceremony at the Kremlin for troops who took part in Russia's Syria campaign but did not offer any details. He also said another terrorist attack had been thwarted in St. Petersburg but did not elaborate.

At least 13 people were injured on Wednesday evening when an improvised explosive device went off at a storage area for customers' bags at the supermarket in St. Petersburg. Investigators said the device contained 200 grams of explosives and was rigged with shrapnel to cause more damage.

The Investigative Committee, the nation's top investigative agency, said a device containing 200 grams of explosives went off at a storage area for customers' bags. It said the device was rigged with shrapnel to cause more damage.

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Read more: CIA tipped off Russia about planned St Petersburg bombings

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No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion at a branch of the Perekrestok supermarket chain in the city's northwest Kalininsky district.

Alexander Klaus, the chief of the local branch of the Investigative Committee, said 10 people were hospitalised with injuries.

Andrey Kibitov, a spokesman for St Petersburg's governor, tweeted that the injured were in satisfactory condition and one had been discharged from the hospital.

A criminal investigation was launched.

While officials stopped short of branding the explosion as a terror attack, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee that oversees anti-terror efforts in Russia said it was coordinating the search for suspects.

Viktoria Gordeyeva, a St Petersburg resident who walked past the supermarket shortly after the explosion, said people were afraid to enter other stores in the area.

"There was no panic, but people were reluctant to enter a nearby drug store and a grocery store," Gordeyeva said.

Another local resident, Marina Bulanova, a doctor, heard the explosion and rushed to the market to help treat anyone who might be hurt. She said ambulance crews already had taken those injured to city hospitals by the time she got there.

Russian president Vladimir Putin telephoned US president Donald Trump earlier this month to thank him for a CIA tip that helped thwart a series of bombings in St Petersburg, Putin's home town.

The Federal Security Service, or FSB, said seven suspects linked to the Islamic State group were arrested in connection to the alleged plot. The Kremlin said the arrested suspects had planned to bomb St. Petersburg's Kazan Cathedral and other crowded sites.

In April, a suicide bombing in the St Petersburg's subway left 16 people dead and wounded more than 50. Russian authorities identified the bomber who blew himself up on a subway line as Akbardzhon Dzhalilov, a 22-year old Kyrgyz-born Russian national.