Monday, June 7, 2004. Page 3.
Market Blast Kills 10 in Samara
By Simon Saradzhyan
Yuri Strelets / Reuters
Emergency workers examining the site of the blast Friday at Samara's Kirovsky market, which killed 10 and injured about 60.
A powerful blast shook an outdoor market in the Volga region city of Samara on Friday, killing 10 people and injuring about 60 in what law enforcement agencies said could have been either a terrorist act or a business dispute.
A bomb containing about 1 kilogram of plastic explosives was attached to the back of a metal container at the Kirovsky open-air market in the Saratov district on Friday afternoon, police said.
Eight people died at the scene, a ninth man died on his way to hospital and a 10th person died in intensive care Saturday, Russian news agencies reported. A total of 60 people required medical assistance, with 37 still being kept in local hospitals Sunday afternoon.
The blast ripped through a line of metal containers that market traders used to keep and sell furs at around 1:05 p.m., sending splinters flying. One woman was lifted into the air and thrown across a fence, Kommersant reported Saturday, citing a witness.
More people could have been hit by splinters of the container, which was ripped apart by the bomb, if a train of fuel tanks had not shielded about 20 people waiting on the platform at the Pyatiletka railway station, located across the railroad tracks from the market.
While both prosecutors and police said they were looking into whether the blast was a terrorist attack or aimed at market traders, they are treating the blast as likely arising from a dispute over control of the market.
Samara regional prosecutor Alexander Yefremov said the blast was most probably organized by one of the groups struggling for control of the market, Kommersant reported Saturday. The paper reported an FSB official as saying that the blast was likely staged by those contesting control of the market, but said he could not rule out an attack by Islamic extremists.
The 2.2-hectare market was opened in 1993 by local firm Vega-S, according to a June 2003 article posted on the Gorozhanin news web site. Vega-S had operated the market until 2002 when Kuibyshev Railroads, which had leased a land plot adjacent to the railroad to Vega-S, decided to terminate the lease, according to Gorozhanin.
Instead the railroad company decided to lease the land where the fur merchants and a parking lot were located to Sammos, a Moscow-based company.
Vega-S contested the decision in local courts and has been feuding with Sammos, Kommersant reported.
Both companies have tried to collect fees from the same traders, leading to protests at the market, Kommersant reported. Neither company could be reached for comment Sunday.
Calls to the Samara region prosecutor's office and police force went unanswered Sunday.