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Radical Islamist suspected in Russia blast that killed 14

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Russian investigators suspect a radical Islamist immigrant from Kyrgyzstan detonated the explosive in a St Petersburg subway car Monday, killing 14 in the worst terrorist attack in a major Russian city in years, Interfax reported.

[MOSCOW] Russian investigators suspect a radical Islamist immigrant from Kyrgyzstan detonated the explosive in a St Petersburg subway car Monday, killing 14 in the worst terrorist attack in a major Russian city in years, Interfax reported.

The likely suicide bomber was a Russian citizen born in the central Asian republic, said a spokesman for the Kyrgyz government's Committee For National Security, adding that his agency is working with Russian officials on the probe. 

Interfax quoted the agency as identifying the suspected bomber as Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, born in 1995, from the city of Osh.

Investigators suspect he was linked to radical Islamist groups and carried his improvised device in a backpack. Remains of the bomber are now being subjected to DNA testing, Interfax said, citing unnamed law-enforcement officials. 

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A second device was found at another station and defused Monday and police were seeking a second suspect. Officials in Kazakhstan said they were cooperating with Russian authorities in the probe, although it wasn't clear if there was an additional suspect from that country.

Eleven people were killed immediately in the blast and three more died later from their injuries, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said, adding that 49 remain hospitalised. The bomb detonated inside the train as it travelled between two major hub stations in the center of the city.

President Vladimir Putin, who was in Russia's second-largest city at the time of the attack, visited the Federal Security Service's St Petersburg branch to be briefed by officials on the subway attack by security agencies and later laid flowers at the site of the explosion. Security was tightened across St Petersburg, a city of 5 million, as well as in Moscow.

US President Donald Trump, asked about the blast by reporters in Washington, called it a "terrible, terrible thing - happening all over the world".

In a call with Mr Putin, Mr Trump "offered the full support of the United States government in responding to the attack and bringing those responsible to justice," according to a White House statement.

The leaders agreed that "terrorism must be decisively and quickly defeated". Russia's two biggest cities haven't suffered a major attack in more than six years.

The Kremlin tightened security after hundreds were killed by terrorist strikes in the early 2000s that were later claimed mostly by Chechen separatists.

Since Mr Putin sent forces into Syria in 2015, Islamic State has threatened to strike at Russia, taking responsibility for the downing of a plane carrying Russian tourists from Egypt to St Petersburg, which left 224 dead.

Some political analysts said the Kremlin may seek to use Monday's bombing, as it has with some previous terrorist attacks, to further crack down on opponents, particularly after the biggest anti-Kremlin protests in several years swept major cities on March 26.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, some commentators on state television sought to link the blast with the organisers of opposition rallies. But within hours, the line changed to a more benign one of criticism of any effort to blame authorities for failing to prevent the attack.

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