Crocus City Hall

A Look Back At Major Terror Attacks Under Putin’s Rule

March 23, 2024
3 mins read

Gunmen opened fire at a packed music venue in Moscow on March 22, killing at least 62 people and wounding 100 more, in the worst such attack in Russia in years.

The Islamic State (IS) extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack, in which several gunmen stormed into the popular Crocus City Hall concert venue, where, music fans had gathered for a gig.

Here are some of the other major attacks to have happened inside Russia over the past two decades of President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

People look at portraits of victims of the Nord-Ost crisis during a gathering outside the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow in October 2020. Terror Attacks
People look at portraits of victims of the Nord-Ost crisis during a gathering outside the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow in October 2020.

Terror Attacks – Nord-Ost/Dubrovka Theater Hostage Crisis (2002)

On October 23, 2002, militants from the North Caucasus burst into a Moscow theater during a musical and took the audience, players, and staff hostage. Three days later, more than 700 hostages were rescued after Russian special forces pumped a toxic gas into the theater and stormed the venue. But nearly 130 hostages died, many from the effects of the gas and other problems during the rescue operation.

Commuter Train Blast (2003)

In December 2003, a blast struck a train outside a station in southern Russia during the morning rush hour, killing some 46 people and injuring scores more. Authorities pointed the finger at Chechen separatists. The explosion came days before parliamentary elections, with Putin describing it as an effort to destabilize the country.

Moscow Subway Suicide Bombings (2004)

In February 2004, a suicide bomber killed at least 39 people and injured more than 100 on a subway train as it left Moscow’s Avtozavodskaya station. Six months later, on August 31, a female suicide bomber blew herself up outside another Moscow subway station, killing 10 people.

Russian Passenger Jets Blown Up (2004)

Russians were already reeling from the events of the night of August 24 when suicide bombers brought down two Russian passenger jets, killing 90 people. The jets — one bound for Sochi, the other headed to Volgograd — crashed almost simultaneously. Authorities said two female passengers had triggered the bombs and again tied the attacks to Chechen separatists.

At least 334 people, mostly children, were killed in the bungled Beslan rescue operation. Terror Attacks
At least 334 people, mostly children, were killed in the bungled Beslan rescue operation.

Beslan School Massacre (2004)

Militants calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya seized a school in the North Caucasus town of Beslan on the first day of school on September 1, 2004, in an attack that came to be known as “Russia’s 9/11” — a reference to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The gunmen took more than 1,000 pupils, parents, and staff hostage, starting a more than two-day-long siege. Russian security forces stormed the school in a bungled rescue effort, during which a blaze broke out in the gym where most of the hostages were being held. At least 334 people were killed, the majority of them children.

Moscow Market Bombing (2006)

In August 2006 a bomb tore through a Moscow market, killing 10 people, in what authorities said was a racially motivated attack targeting traders from Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Nevsky Express Bombing (2009)

A bomb derailed the Nevsky Express train between Moscow and St. Petersburg on an evening in late November 2009, killing at least 26 people. A group led by Chechen militant Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for the blast.

Twin Moscow Subway Suicide Bombings (2010)

Suicide bombers, believed to be women, again struck the Moscow subway in March 2010, targeting two stations some 40 minutes apart during rush hour in attacks that killed 39 people. Umarov again claimed responsibility for ordering the attacks.

Moscow Domodedovo Airport (2011)

In January 2011, a suicide bomber killed 37 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in another attack later claimed by Umarov, who vowed to disrupt the 2014 Winter Olympics that Russia was set to host in Sochi.

Volgograd Bus And Train-Station Bombings (2013)

More than 30 people were killed in two suspected suicide bombings in as many days in the southern city of Volgograd in December 2013Eighteen people were killed and dozens more hurt by an explosion at Volgograd’s main train station that officials described as a terrorist attack by a suicide bomber.

Less than 24 hours later, at least 15 people were killed and more than 20 others injured in a rush-hour explosion aboard a trolleybus in the city. The attacks took place less than six weeks before the start of the Sochi Olympics.

St. Petersburg Subway Attack (2017)

The last major attack inside Russia took place in April 2017, when 15 people were killed in a blast on the St. Petersburg metro. Officials identified the suicide bomber as Akbarjon Jalilov, an ethnic Uzbek Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan. One man was later jailed for life for financing the blast, while 10 others received lengthy prison terms.

Compiled by Kathleen Moore with contributions from RFE/RL staff

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