After mall blast, Putin tells cops to liquidate armed criminals

A day after a homemade bomb in a St Petersburg supermarket left 14 injured, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that armed criminals could be “liquidated on the spot” if they put up resistance.

Calling the supermarket attack an “act of terror”, Putin said he had ordered the nation’s security services to “act decisively”.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov later explained that the Russian leader was referring to all those “who harbour plans to carry out acts of terror in our country”.

Peskov rejected concerns that Saint Petersburg had become especially vulnerable in the face of terrorism. He said terrorism presents a danger to any locality in the world.

But Saint Petersburg is an important cultural venue and home to thousands of migrants from majority-Muslim Central Asia.

Putin’s decision to intervene in Syria militarily on the side of Bashar al-Assad has made Russia a priority target for the Islamic State group.

In April, a suicide bombing killed 15 people and wounded dozens on the Saint Petersburg metro. Al-Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for the incident, said it was a message to countries engaged in war with Muslims, a reference to Russia’s military campaign in Syria.

In Wednesday’s blast, a criminal placed an unidentified explosive device in a storage locker.

Footage posted online by local media showed a man in a green hooded sweatshirt enter the supermarket with a backpack and leave without it a short time afterwards.

Of the 14 wounded, six are still receiving medical treatment, officials said, adding that they would receive financial aid.