Russia (MNN) — Monday’s metro bombing in St. Petersburg killed a total of 14 people and injured many more. A second bomb was found at another station, but was disarmed, reports say.
While connections to a terrorist group have not been confirmed, BBC said yesterday that Russian officials arrested six men thought to be ISIS recruiters. No connection has been made between these men and the suspected perpetrator of Monday’s attack.
UPDATE: Authorities have arrested three suspects with possible connections to Monday’s bombing. A third bomb was found in an apartment complex, but it was disarmed.
We spoke with Slavic Gospel Association’s Joel Griffith about the situation. Fortunately, SGA has not received any reports that any of their on-the-ground contacts were hurt. He says, “From what we’re able to determine from all the reporting on it thus far, the person who is the suspect in this attack was somebody who came from Kyrgyzstan, [was] born there in the mid-1990s, and then got Russian citizenship.”
(Photo by sbamuella via flickr: https://flic.kr/p/ArtY8F)
How officials will react depends on what they discover through further investigations, Griffith says. It could be this was an isolated incident, but if the suspect is found to have connections with an extremist group, it may call for larger action.
“Russia’s certainly no stranger to this sort of thing happening, but it’s just a horribly grievous thing when it does happen,” Griffiths explains.
In the past, most attacks like these have been the work of Islamic groups in the Caucasus region. You may remember the series of attacks that took place in 2004, the most notable being the hostage situation at the Beslan school. Over 300 people died. However, in the last several years, the frequency of attacks has lessened.
SGA hopes that in the wake of this latest attack, the Church can be there for the community.
“It’s just a tragic, tragic situation. And we’re praying, obviously, for the families and the individuals impacted by this, that the Lord would bring them comfort and peace; but above all, that the churches there in St. Petersburg [would] minister to their people [and] will be able to have open doors for the Gospel.”
(Photo courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association)
With Easter just around the corner, churches have already been gearing up to reach visitors with the Gospel message. Easter is a huge religious holiday in Russia, and many people who don’t regularly attend church will this day.
“The churches have evangelism on their minds. They’re going to use this opportunity to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And we just pray that a bountiful harvest is gathered as we do so,” Griffith says.
Will you join SGA as they pray for Russia? Ask God to prevent any further attacks. Pray that in the pain, the Church will be able to share a message of hope and healing. And, pray for the evangelical work going on in the Caucasus mountain region where work must done discreetly.