Second blast hits Russia, kills 15

Russia blastInvestigators work at the site of the blast in Volgograd Monday. (Reuters)

A Bomb ripped a bus apart in Volgograd Monday, killing 15 people in the second deadly attack blamed on suicide bombers in the southern Russian city in 24 hours and raising fears of Islamist attacks on the Winter Olympics.

President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his prestige on February's Sochi Games and dismissed threats from Chechen and other Islamist militants in the nearby North Caucasus, ordered tighter security nationwide after the morning rush-hour blast.

Investigators said they believed a male suicide bomber set off the blast, a day after a similar attack killed at least 17 in the main rail station.

The blue and white trolleybus was reduced to a twisted, gutted carcass. Bodies were strewn across the street as Russians prepared to celebrate New Year.

Windows in nearby apartments were blown out by the blast, which Russia's foreign ministry condemned as part of a global "terrorist" campaign and welcomed a declaration of solidarity made on Sunday by the UN Security Council.

"For the second day, we are dying. It's a nightmare," a woman near the scene told Reuters, her voice trembling as she held back tears. "What are we supposed to do, just walk now?"

"Identical" shrapnel to that in the rail station indicated the two bombs were linked, investigators said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh strongly condemned the "ghastly" terrorist attack and conveyed to Russian President Vladimir Putin condolences for the victims.

In a letter, Singh termed the attacks as "unconscionable" crime against humanity and said he was "outraged and pained" to know about them.

Russia-chechnya conflict

* Chechnya is one of 21 republics among 89 regions that make up the Russian Federation.

* Chechens are a Muslim people, who fought hard to avoid being incorporated into the Russian empire, but finally lost the battle in the 19th Century.

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