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Russian police have arrested a woman holding the severed head of a young child outside a subway station in Moscow today.
The woman, wearing a black hijab, or veil, was filmed by bystanders outside the station in northwest Moscow brandishing the child’s head and screaming, “I am a terrorist.”
Witnesses also told state media that the woman had threatened to blow herself up.
Despite the woman’s claims, police say they believe the woman is mentally disturbed and are treating it as a criminal incident, not terrorism. In a statement, Russia’s Investigative Committee -- the equivalent of the FBI -- said the woman was being treated by psychiatric experts and did not seem to understand the meaning of her actions.
The committee said it had arrested the 39-year-old woman from an unspecified Central Asian country in the slaying of a 3- to 4-year-old child and that the woman was the child’s nanny. Police said they had not yet established the motive.
Witnesses told the state news agency, RIA Novosti, that the alleged incident began when the woman was approached by a policeman who asked her to show her documents, after which the woman allegedly pulled the child’s head from her handbag. After walking around for a short time allegedly shouting threats, the woman was arrested by police.
The Investigative Committee statement said it believed the woman had killed the child at home while its parents were out and then had set fire to the apartment where she had committed the alleged crime. RIA Novosti reported that the child’s decapitated body had been found when firefighters extinguished the blaze.
Following the woman’s arrest, a bomb squad from Russia’s FSB security service was checking the area around the subway station for explosives, the Interfax news agency reported, but said none had been found. The FSB also denied reports that traces of explosives had been found on the woman.