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Bombing at Russian airport kills 35, 180 hurt

MOSCOW - Terrorists struck again in the heart of Russia, with a probable suicide bomber blowing himself up yesterday in Moscow's busiest airport and turning its international arrivals terminal into a smoky hall of bodies, screaming survivors and abandoned suitcases.

At least 35 people were killed, including two British travelers.

No one claimed responsibility for the blast at Domodedovo Airport that also wounded 180 people.

Islamic militants in the southern Russian region of Chechnya have been blamed for previous attacks in Moscow, including a double suicide bombing on the capital's subway system last March that resulted in 40 deaths.

President Dmitry Medvedev called it a terrorist attack and immediately tightened security at Moscow's two other commercial airports and other key transportation facilities.

The attack was most likely to have been carried out by a suicide bomber, and "attempts were being made to identify him," Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said, adding that the attacker appeared to have been wearing the explosives on a belt.

The blast came at 4:32 p.m., when hundreds of passengers and workers were in a loosely guarded part of the terminal. They were sprayed with shrapnel of screws and ball bearings, intended to cause as many casualties as possible.

Airport workers turned baggage carts into makeshift stretchers to wheel the wounded to ambulances outside, said Yelena Zatserkovnaya, a Lufthansa official.

Domodedovo was briefly closed to air traffic after the blast, but soon reopened.

Hours later, passengers arriving for their flights lined up outside waiting to pass through metal detectors that had been installed at the entrances.

It was the second time in seven years that Domodedovo, 26 miles southeast of Moscow, was involved in a terrorist attack: In 2004, two female suicide bombers penetrated the lax security there, illegally bought tickets from airport personnel and boarded planes that exploded in flight and killed 90 people.

Medvedev canceled plans to travel today to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered the health minister to send her deputies to hospitals to make sure the injured were getting the medical care they needed.

Russians still look to Putin as the leader they trust to guarantee their security, and the attack was likely to strengthen the position of the security forces that form part of his base.

Large-scale battles in Chechnya ended years ago, but Islamic militants have continued to carry out suicide bombings and other attacks. Most have been in Chechnya and other predominantly Muslim provinces in the southern Caucasus region, but some have targeted Moscow, including its subways, trains and even a theater.

In Washington, President Barack Obama condemned the "outrageous act of terrorism" and offered any assistance.

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