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Terror in St Petersburg as subway bomb kills 11 and second device defused

By Irina Titova

A bomb blast has torn through a subway train deep under Russia's second-largest city St Petersburg, killing 11 people and wounding about 40 others.

Hours later anguish and fear rose again when police found and defused a shrapnel-packed explosive device at another St Petersburg station.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came while President Vladimir Putin was visiting the city, his hometown.

In the past two decades Russian trains and planes have been frequent targets of terrorism, usually blamed on Islamic militants.

News reports said police were searching for two suspects, and Russian State television showed a photo of one suspect wearing what appeared to be a skullcap characteristic of Russia's Muslim regions.

St Petersburg, a major tourist destination famed for its imperial palaces and lavish art museums, had been spared previous attacks.

"From now on I will be scared to take the subway," said Marina Ilyina (30) who brought flowers to the station where the train stopped after the bombing.

"We in St Petersburg thought we wouldn't be touched by that."

The explosion occurred in mid-afternoon as the train travelled between stations on one of the city's north-south lines.

The driver chose to continue on to the next stop, Technological Institute, a decision praised by the Investigative Committee as aiding evacuation efforts and reducing the danger to passengers who would have had to walk along the electrified tracks.

The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said the death toll was 11, with another 45 people being treated for wounds in hospitals.

Amateur video broadcast by Russian TV showed people lying on the platform of the Technological Institute station, and others bleeding and weeping just after the damaged train pulled in.

"Everything was covered in smoke," Maria Smirnova, a student on a train behind the stricken one, told independent TV station Dozhd.

"There were a lot of firefighters."

Within two hours of the blast authorities had found and deactivated another bomb at another busy station, Vosstaniya Square, the anti-terror agency said.

Russian law enforcement agencies confirmed the device was loaded with shrapnel, and the Interfax news agency said it contained up to one kilogramme of explosives.

Mr Putin, who was meeting with the President of Belarus at the Constantine Palace on the city's outskirts, offered condolences on national television.

"Law enforcement agencies and intelligence services are doing their best to establish the cause and give a full picture of what happened," a sombre-looking Mr Putin said.

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