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Putin says St. Petersburg blast was ‘terrorist’ attack

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that a recent bomb blast in a busy supermarket in Saint Petersburg was “a terrorist act.”

“You know that yesterday, in St. Petersburg, a terrorist act was carried out,” Putin told the audience at a ceremony in the Kremlin on Thursday, referring to a explosion that rocked Russia’s second-largest city and left 13 shoppers injured in a branch of the Perekrestok supermarket chain.

Investigators said the homemade bomb used in the assault contained 200 grams of explosives and was rigged with shrapnel to cause more damage.

No group or individual has so far claimed responsibility for the blast.

‘When in danger, kill, don’t capture’

Putin said that if there was a threat to the lives of law enforcement officers, they needed to “act decisively, not to capture anyone and to kill on the spot.”

The Russian president announced that another terrorist attack had been thwarted in St. Petersburg but declined to provide further details.

A bombing attack killed 15 people and wounded dozens on the city’s metro in April. The bombing was claimed by an al-Qaeda-linked group.

Earlier this month, Russian security forces arrested a group of Daesh terrorists who had intended to blow up the Kazan Cathedral — one of St. Petersburg’s most famous landmarks.

The mission in Syria

Putin, who was speaking at an awards ceremony in the Kremlin for Russian personnel who served in Syria, said the Syrian army, with the support of Moscow’s air force and navy, had liberated nearly the entire Arab country from the clutches of Daesh.

“More than 48,000 officers and soldiers have taken part in the operation in Syria over the past two years. They are representatives of nearly all military professions — pilots and sailors, special forces and military police, sappers, scouts, communications officers, medical and logistics specialists, command officers, and military advisers,” Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during his visit to the Russian air base in Hmeimim, in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia, on December 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Since September 2015, Moscow has been carrying out an aerial bombardment campaign against the positions of extremist militants in Syria on an official request from the Damascus government.

Putin ordered Russian forces to begin withdrawing from Syria during a surprise visit to the war-ravaged country earlier this month, as he declared victory over Daesh there.

The Russian president stressed that Moscow would keep the Hmeimim air base in Latakia as well as Russia’s naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus based on agreements with Damascus.

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