Putin calls St. Petersburg supermarket explosion a 'terrorist attack'

Russian news agencies say a device exploded at a supermarket in St. Petersburg.

Moscow, RUSSIA -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday an explosion at a supermarket in St. Petersburg yesterday was a "terrorist attack."

Putin made the comments at an award ceremony in Moscow for Russian military members who fought in Syria.

Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee of Russia, told Interfax that an improvised device containing the equivalent of 200 grams of TNT detonated in one of the port city's supermarkets. The device included "lethal fragments" to increase casualties, the Russian Investigative Committee said.

Russian authorities on Wednesday had been hesitant to classify the blast, which injured 13 people, as terrorism. Eight people remain in the hospital, with five of them in "moderately grave condition," according to authorities.

Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee (NAK) said the explosion occurred at 6:45 p.m. local time in a customer locker area at the city's Perekrestok supermarket.

Authorities said the suspect was caught on surveillance video leaving a backpack at the market's coat check.

State news agency TASS, citing Alexander Klaus, head of the Investigative Committee's St. Petersburg office, initially reported that 10 people had been hospitalized.

"The wounded people’s lives are not in danger," Klaus apparently told reporters at the scene.

In the wake of the explosion, Interfax said the Investigative Committee's St. Petersburg office has opened a criminal investigation into the attempted killing of two or more people.

It was just 10 days ago that Putin said he had spoken to President Donald Trump and thanked him for a CIA tip which had stopped a series of bombings in St. Petersburg.