Russia detains 10 suspects allegedly plotting 'Paris-style' attacks

MOSCOW • Suspects detained by the Russian authorities were plotting simultaneous "Paris-style" attacks on Moscow and Saint Petersburg, local media reported yesterday, the first anniversary of the attacks on the French capital.

The FSB state security service, the KGB's successor, announced on Saturday that it had detained 10 citizens of Central Asian states who were planning "high-profile acts of sabotage and terror" in the two Russian cities.

Citing official sources, Saint Petersburg's Fontanka.ru news site reported yesterday that the seven people taken into custody there were suspected of planning attacks on two large shopping centres.

Citing security service sources, government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported late last Saturday that the detainees "were planning terror attacks according to the Paris scenario", referring to attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria a year ago that killed 130 people.

"Several explosive devices were supposed to trigger simultaneously in busy places. At the same time, in different parts of the cities, some of the terrorists... were going to open fire with machine guns on crowds," the paper reported, referring to the Russian plot.

The paper called the attackers "a professional terrorist group". The FSB said it had confiscated four homemade bombs as well as trigger devices, guns, ammunition and communications equipment.

The authorities did not say when the attack was to take place.

The FSB released video footage that showed its black-clad officers in balaclavas holding two suspects face-down on the street.

Another video showed a stash of Kalashnikovs in a flat and detainees lying face-down on mattresses on the floor.

The FSB said the raids were carried out in cooperation with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan's law enforcement authorities. Impoverished majority-Muslim Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan both say they are battling Islamist extremism.

Tajikistan says that up to 1,000 of its nationals are fighting with radical groups in Syria and Iraq, while Kyrgyzstan says that some 500 of its citizens have gone to fight alongside the militants.

The Tajik interior ministry said it learnt of the planned attacks from an alleged local accomplice of the group and passed the information to Russia. The FSB released footage of a handcuffed suspect - apparently a teenager - who says he is a Tajik citizen.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'Russia detains 10 suspects allegedly plotting 'Paris-style' attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe