A second suicide bombing claimed at least 14 lives in the Russian city of Volgograd on Monday just one day after another suicide bombing shook the same city, raising major concerns about the upcoming Winter Olympics to be held just a few miles away in Sochi.
The official death toll is still fluctuating, but at least 14 people have been confirmed dead after the suicide bombing demolished a trolleybus in Volgograd.
The scene in the city was devastating, with one Russian TV reporter describing it as “terrible,” adding that there were “bodies everywhere, blood on the snow.”
At least 20 others have been injured including a 6-month-old whose parents are assumed dead, and a 1-year-old who is in critical condition.
While Russian authorities have heightened security measures at all railway stations in the area, mass transportation in major cities like Volgograd are approaching their busiest time of the year as many civilians are traveling in anticipation of the new year.
This latest attack came less than 24 hours after another suicide bomber hit a central station in Volgograd, killing 17 people and injuring many more.
“For the second day, we are dying – it’s a nightmare,” one woman near the bomb scene told Reuters. “What are we supposed to do – just walk now?”
Another local resident, Polina Goncharova, said she is in complete shock along with the rest of the city.
“This is the first time in my life that I have experienced anything like this,” she told the BBC. “I have been crying since I heard about the first bombing, and now the second one today.”
While no group has claimed to be responsible for the deadly attacks, it is believed that they are linked to the Chechen jihadist leader Doku Umarov who publicly vowed disrupt the Olympic Games in Sochi, which kick off in less than two months.
Other investigators are speculating that Volgograd was chosen as a symbolic target. The city, formerly known as Stalingrad, was the site of one of the most tragic and bloodiest battles of World War II and is also the closest major city to the Russian Caucasus.
Volgograd was also targeted in October when another suspected suicide bomber killed six people on a bus.
Security expert Andrey Soldatov said that he believes militants from the North Caucasus were aiming to prove a very serious point – that they have the ability to execute deadly attacks even miles outside of their own region.
Soldatov also speculated that the attacks will force a division in security, as authorities will have to focus on many regions in the area instead of focusing all their attention on Sochi when the 2014 Winter Olympics arrive on Feb. 7.