According to Russian government and open source reporting, two female suicide bombers attacked two trains on the Moscow metro on 29 March by detonating improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were worn on their bodies. Initial reporting indicates 38 people may have been killed and 102 injured. The attacks appear intended to cause maximum casualties and publicity, taking place in the crowded morning hours as trains were in or arriving at busy stations located near iconic government buildings. According to the Russian Federal Security Service, the bombs were composed of military-grade explosive and augmented with shrapnel to make them even more lethal.
The attacks appeared timed specifically to target the trains as they were in or arriving at stations to causing the greatest number of casualties both aboard the trains and on the platforms. According to Russian press reports, both explosions occurred on the oldest line of the Moscow metro system and both were detonated in the second car of a train during a busy morning period. Both bombers boarded their trains at the Yugo-Zapadnaya station which is the outermost station on the line that was targeted. The first bomber detonated her device at the Lubyanka metro station at 7:56 a.m. Moscow time as the train was pulling into the station; the second bomber detonated her device at the Park Kultury station (four stops south of Lubyanka) at 8:37 a.m. as the train was stopped and passengers were boarding. Both the Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations are transfer stations and may have been chosen to target the greatest number of people. The location of the attacks also may have been chosen to generate the most media attention by occurring near important government facilities. The Lubyanka metro station is directly under the headquarters of the Federal Security Service. Russian officials believe that the second bombing most likely was meant to occur at the Oktyabrskaya station, which is the location of the Interior Ministry, but was mistakenly detonated at Park Kultury for reasons that have not yet been determined. Preliminary reports indicate the attackers wore the IEDs under their clothing. Russian officials assess the devices used the military and industrial explosive hexogen (RDX) and that the first was equivalent to 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) of TNT and the second to 1.5 to 2 kilograms (3.3 to 4.4 pounds) of TNT. The devices were filled with shrapnel to increase casualties.
The attack is similar to two that occurred in 2004 on the Moscow metro system, which a Russian court found were caused by a Chechen separatist organization; 49 people were killed and 300 were injured in those attacks.
Moscow Metro Bombings, “Intelligence Bulletin Joint FBI-DHS Bulletin No. 348“, 29.03.2010.