February 6, 2004 | Moscow metro bombing

Terrorism is meant to instill fear of the ordinary: is anything more ordinary than taking the metro to work only to be caught up in a bombing?

FOR THOSE OF you who do not live in Ottawa, as I do, you are probably blissfully unaware of the schlemozzle (I use that word a lot even if it does not exist) that is the roll-out of our new light rail system. After seven years of construction and over $2 billion the city finally inaugurated a 21st century way to get from east to west (including 13 stations) last September.

We all celebrated the fact that no longer would the downtown be a crush of hundreds of buses feeding the various neighbourhoods and that commuting could possibly be ‘pleasant’. Alas, problems with the trains and the tracks have led to delays and cancelled cars and a lot of angry Ottawans. What was supposed to make things better has come up a tad short (for the record, I have yet to encounter a single problem with the trains but I have to admit I don’t head downtown every day so my experiences are not representative).

a crowd of people
These commuters are not having a ‘pleasant’ time (Photo: Twitter)

It is one thing to miss a train because of a breakdown or to find oneself crammed in like sardines beside fellow commuters. It is quite another to have one’s morning ride to work interrupted by a terrorist attack.

Moscow metro bombing
Memorial to the victims

On this day in 2004 a bomb exploded inside a crowded subway train during the morning rush in Moscow, killing at least 39 people and wounding more than 130 in what officials said was the latest in a series of terrorist attacks linked to the war in Chechnya. The blast shattered the train’s windows, rent its metal seats and bars, and hurled bodies and body parts from the train. Hundreds of passengers — some of them bloodied and dazed — staggered hundreds of yards through smoke-filled tunnels to reach safety. As they emerged, they described a scene of fear, confusion and carnage deep beneath the heart of the Russian capital.

It was not certain at first whether the bombing was a suicide attack or the result of a parcel left on the train. A little-know group calling itself Gazoton-Murdash claimed responsibility, saying it was marking the fourth anniversary of Russia’s killing of civilians in Grozny.

When I hear of events like this it helps to put living in Canada in perspective. I may not complain so much when my next train is late. At least I am not likely to be blown up by a terrorist in Ottawa.


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February 5, 1994 | Shelling of market in Sarajevo


Phil Gurski
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