MOSCOW (AP) – A 17-year-old widow of a slain Islamist rebel was one of the two female suicide bombers who attacked Moscow’s subway, a leading Russian newspaper reported Friday, as President Dmitry Medvedev announced new measures to crack down on terrorism.
The death toll from Monday’s subway bombings in Moscow rose to 40 on Friday as a man died in the hospital of his injuries. At least 90 others were injured in those attacks.
Medvedev, himself a lawyer, said the laws should be broadened so that those who help terrorists even in small ways “by making soup or washing clothes” are punished. However, that is something Russian authorities have already been doing.
The Kommersant newspaper reported that the subway bombers came from Dagestan and Chechnya, two neighboring, predominantly Muslim provinces in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region. Dagestan was the site of two subsequent suicide bombings on Wednesday that killed 12 people, mostly police officers, and another explosion Thursday that killed two suspected militants.
Federal and local officials in Dagestan refused to comment Friday to The Associated Press on the newspaper report. A Chechen militant leader on Thursday claimed responsibility for the subway bombings.
Kommersant published a photograph of a young woman dressed in a black Muslim headscarf and holding a pistol. It named her as Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova from Dagestan, saying she was also known as Dzhennet Abdullayeva.
A man with his arm around her, also holding a gun, is identified as Umalat Magomedov, whom the paper describes as an Islamist militant leader killed by government forces in December.
The report, giving no sources, said the second bomber has been tentatively identified as 20-year-old Markha Ustarkhanova from Chechnya. On Thursday, the paper said she was the widow of a militant leader killed last October while preparing to assassinate Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is backed by the Kremlin.
Female suicide bombers from the North Caucasus are referred to in Russia as “black widows” because many of them are the wives, or other relatives, of militants killed by security forces.
Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have called for the terrorists to be unceremoniously destroyed. On Friday, Medvedev broadened the targets to include their accomplices.
“In my opinion, we have to create such a model for terrorist crimes that anyone who helps them, no matter what he does, be it cook the soup or wash the clothes, has committed a crime,” Medvedev said.
Russian police and security forces have long been accused of seizing people suspected of aiding militants. Some people were tortured and many disappeared, and rights people trying to document the abuses have also been slain, kidnapped, threatened or have disappeared.