Twin bomb blasts allegedly detonated by female bombers ripped through Moscow's subway system at the height of rush hour this morning, killing at least 38 people, according to Russian emergency officials.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov told reporters that "two female suicide bombers were involved" in the attacks, which struck central Metro stations Lubyanka and Park Kultury at 7:56 a.m. and 8:39 a.m. local time.
The fact that the bombers are believed to be women has led many to fear that it may be the work of the notorious "black widows", female suicide bombers from Chechnya who have attacked Moscow before.
Police are expected to release CCTV footage of the suicide bombers and accomplices later today, the Russian news agency Interfax is reporting.
The surveillance video from inside the train showed the bombers "accompanied by two women of Slav appearance. The faces of all of them were exposed," a source told Interfax.
Emergency services say more than 60 people were injured in the blasts that struck at the busiest time of day. Moscow has one of the most used subway systems in the world, with millions travelling on it every day.
Witnesses told Reuters news agency that people struggled to escape from the two stations, as thick smoke flooded the underground.
"I was in the middle of the train when somewhere in the first or second carriage there was a loud blast. I felt the vibrations reverberate through my body," an unidentified man at Park Kultury told the RIA news agency.
"People were yelling like hell," he said. "There was a lot of smoke and in about two minutes everything was covered in smoke."
According to the BBC, ambulances were fighting traffic to get to the injured. News channel Russia Today reported that some of the wounded were being evacuated by helicopters because of the blocked roads.
According to Reuters, surveillance television footage posted online from the Lubyanka station lobby showed several bodies lying on the floor or collapsed against the wall as emergency workers tried to treat the injured.
"I was moving up on the escalator when I heard a loud bang, a blast. A door near the passage way arched, was ripped out and a cloud of dust came down on the escalator," a man named Alexei told the state-run Rossiya 24 television channel.
"People started running, panicking, falling on each other," he said.
Lubyanka station is located near the headquarters of the Russian domestic security service FSB. Park Kultury is located opposite the famous Gorky Park.
Prosecutors told Reuters that they have opened a terrorism investigation after forensic experts found the remains of a female bomber at one of the blast sites.
In an on-camera meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev, the head of the Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, said a preliminary investigation suggested the involvement of terrorists from Russia's volatile Caucasus region.