MOSCOW (AP) -- Female suicide bombers blew themselves up Monday in twin attacks on Moscow subway stations packed with rush-hour passengers, killing at least 38 people and wounding more than 60, officials said. The carnage blamed on rebels from the Caucasus region follows the killings of several high-profile Islamic militant leaders there.
The blasts come six years after Islamic separatists from the southern Russian region carried out a pair of deadly Moscow subway strikes and raise concerns that the war has once again come to the capital, amid militants' warnings of a renewed determination to push their fight.
Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing late last year on a passenger train en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Last month, Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov warned Russians in an interview on a rebel-affiliated Web site that "the war is coming to their cities."
The first explosion took place just before 8 a.m. at the Lubyanka station in central Moscow. The station is underneath the building that houses the main offices of the Federal Security Service, the KGB's main successor agency, a symbol of power under Vladimir Putin.
About 45 minutes later, a second explosion hit the Park Kultury station, which is near the renowned Gorky Park. In both cases, the bombs were detonated as the trains pulled into the stations and the doors were opening.
"I heard a bang, turned my head and smoke was everywhere. People ran for the exits screaming," said 24-year-old Alexander Vakulov, who was on a train on the platform opposite the targeted train at Park Kultury.
"I saw a dead person for the first time in my life," said Valentin Popov, 19, who had just arrived at the station from the opposite direction.
Prime Minister Putin, who built much of his political capital by directing a fierce war with Chechen separatists a decade ago, vowed Monday that "terrorists will be destroyed."
Militants in the Caucasus have declared the creation of an Islamic state as their top goal. The militants receive moral and financial support from al-Qaida, which for years has celebrated the Chechen struggle as one of the key fronts for roving Muslim fighters along with Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia.