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Russia arrests eight suspects over Crimea bridge blast

Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch Bridge, which links Crimea to Russia, after a truck exploded, near Kerch, on October 8, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Russia has detained eight suspects over a huge blast that recently targeted a bridge connecting the Russian mainland to the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement on Wednesday that it had arrested five Russians, three Ukrainians, and one Armenian for alleged involvement in the explosion, Interfax reported.

The FSB accused Ukraine’s military intelligence service and its director, Kyrylo Budanov, of organizing the attack, with a Kiev agent having coordinated the transit of the explosives.

According to the FSB’s investigation, the attack was carried out by a Georgian-registered cargo truck that had been loaded with explosive devices.

The explosives were hidden in 22 plastic film rolls, the service said, adding that they left the Ukrainian port of Odesa in August and transited through Bulgaria, Georgia, and Armenia before entering Russia.

Twelve people were also identified as accomplices, TASS news agency reported.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry spokesman Andriy Yusov has dismissed the accusation as “nonsense,” saying Kiev would definitely not comment on statements by the FSB, which he said was a “fake structure” serving the Russian government.

On Saturday, a truck bomb went off on the Kerch Strait Bridge, which hosts road and rail links between the Russian Federation and Crimea.

The bomb set fire to seven oil tankers that were being carried by rail to Crimea, sparking a massive blaze and killing three people. Dramatic social media footage showed a huge plume of smoke billowing out of the site of the incident, while parts of the bridge were seen plunging into the sea.

The bridge, constructed on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had been inaugurated in 2018, four years after Crimea voted in a referendum to become part of Russia.

Putin has called the blast “a terrorist act” carried out by Ukrainian secret services aimed at destroying critical Russian civilian infrastructure.

On Monday, Russia’s military struck Kiev and other Ukrainian cities, with Putin warning of a “harsh” response in case of any further attacks such as the one on the Crimean Bridge.  

Kiev’s police officials say the blasts caused at least five deaths and 12 injuries there, but there were no details about the causalities in other cities, including Lviv, Zhytomyr, Khmelnitsky, Dnipro, and Ternopil.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the bridge bombing. But Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has said the bombing is “the beginning.” Ukraine says the bridge served as a key transport link for carrying military equipment to Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, especially in the south.

Russian invaded Ukraine in February.

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