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Glavny Universalny Magazin (GUM) shopping centre ©kuhnmi

Russian cities subject to mystery bomb threats

14/09/17Defence

For four consecutive days, towns and cities across Russia have been targeted by a sequence of bomb alerts.

Schools, shopping centres, railway stations and public buildings have been evacuated, affecting tens of thousands of people.

An official in Chelyabinsk told Interfax news agency: “There’s reason to assume this was all organised abroad”, though the source of the threats remains unclear.

Moscow was subject to a potential threat on Wednesday (13 September), leading to the evacuation of the luxury GUM shopping centre near the Kremlin. A report added that in the capital alone more than 50,000 were caught up in the alerts.

Pro-Kremlin newspapers have suggested that there may have been a “major hacking attack”, which could have possibly originated from Ukraine. State TV said 205 companies and organisations had been targeted across the nation.

No-one is certain, but the alerts appear to have originated from a pre-recorded voice message via internet telephony.

The governor of Stavropol labelled it as a “phone attack” which had come from abroad, while one phone provider discussed the attack in relation to an “international virtual operator”.

Other reports proposed that the threats were made through scrambled internet connections and were therefore difficult to source. However, there was suggestion that the source of the disruption could have been closer to home.

An aide of the Russian defence ministry’s inspector general was quoted saying that the alerts were part of an anti-terror exercise.

Russia has been hit by jihadist attacks, which included a bombing on the St Petersburg metro in April in which 16 people died.

Pan European Networks Ltd