Originally published January 24, 2011 at 6:34 a.m., updated January 24, 2011 at 7:54 a.m.
An explosion that killed dozens of people when it ripped through the international arrivals area at Moscow's busiest airport on Monday may have been a terrorist act.
Witnesses said one or two suicide bombers blew themselves up near a cafe near where passengers exit the customs area in Domodedovo Airport, which remained open to travelers. Russian authorities said as many as 35 people were killed and more than 100 injured, according to news reports.
President Dmitry Medvedev said the perpetrators will be found and punished.
"From the preliminary information we have, it was a terror attack," Medvedev told officials in a televised briefing. He offered condolences to the families of the victims and ordered that security be stepped up at Moscow's two other commercial airports and other transport facilities, including the subway system, the target of past terrorist attacks.
Doku Umarov, one of the leading figures in the Islamist insurgency in Russia's North Caucasus, claimed responsibility for the late-afternoon blast. He warned that the war in the Caucasus was coming to Russia's main cities.
Sergei Lavochkin, who was waiting in the arrivals hall for a friend to arrive from Cuba, said he saw emergency teams carrying bloodied people out of the terminal.
"I heard a loud bang, saw plastic panels falling down from the ceiling and heard people screaming. Then people started running away," Lavochkin told Rossiya 24 television.
Mark Green, a British Airways passenger who had just arrived at the airport, told BBC television he heard the huge explosion as he left the terminal.
"Literally, it shook you," he said. "As we were putting the bags in the car, a lot of alarms ... were going off and people started flowing out of the terminal, some of whom were covered in blood. One gentleman had a pair of jeans on that was ripped, and his thigh from his groin to his knee was covered in blood."
Domodedovo, which serves passengers traveling within Russia as well as internationally, is generally regarded as Moscow's most up-to-date airport, but its security procedures have been called into question. In 2004, two suicide bombers were able to board planes at Domodedovo by buying tickets illegally from airport personnel. The bombers blew themselves up in midair, killing all 90 people aboard the two flights.
Although the investigation into Monday's explosion is still in the preliminary stage, the blast bears some resemblance to the twin suicide blasts that hit Moscow's metro system last spring, killing 39 people.
In December 2009, Chechen rebels claimed responsibility for blowing up a high-speed train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, an attack that killed 26 people and injured scores.
Associated Press contributed to the information in this report.