* Suspect a woman from mainly Muslim North Caucasus region
* Attack comes four months before Russia hosts Olympics
* Dozens wounded in blast on bus
By Alissa de Carbonnel
MOSCOW, Oct 21 A female suicide bomber attacked
a bus in southern Russia on Monday, authorities said, killing at
least six people in the deadliest such blast outside the
volatile North Caucasus region in nearly three years.
The bombing in Volgograd was likely to raise fears of
further attacks by Islamist militants as Russia prepares to host
the 2014 Winter Olympics in February in the Black Sea resort
city of Sochi, not far from the mainly Muslim North Caucasus.
The attack, which investigators blamed on a 30-year-old
woman from Dagestan - the North Caucasus province at the centre
of an insurgency - also wounded 28 people, of whom eight were in
critical condition, the federal Investigative Committee said.
State television showed footage, taken from a camera mounted
on a driver's dashboard, of an explosion ripping through the bus
as it travelled along a tree-lined road, sending shards of metal
and glass flying.
Passengers scrambled out of doors and windows as the bus
came to a stop engulfed in a cloud of smoke.
"There was a blast - a bang - all the glass flew out of the
windows," an eyewitness named Ivan, who had been driving behind
the bus, told state-run Rossiya-24 television.
"The cloud of smoke quickly dissipated and then I saw people
start to fall out and run out to escape the bus," he said. "It
was a horrible sight."
Authorities named the suspect as Naida Asiyalova, 30, and
state TV showed a passport picture of her in a black chador.
"This woman, in a hijab, got on the bus at one of the stops
and the explosion occurred almost immediately afterwards,"
Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.
A law enforcement source in Dagestan told Reuters that she
had been the wife of Dmitry Sokolov, a man from the Moscow
suburbs who joined an insurgent group in Dagestan last year.
The two met online, the police source said. Asiyalova then
moved to Moscow to marry Sokolov, 20, ten years her junior. In
July 2012, his parents put out a missing persons alert for him
when he failed to come home from Arabic classes.
The source described Sokolov as an explosives expert, who is
thought to have prepared a suicide belt used by a woman who blew
herself up near federal police headquarters in Dagestan's
capital Makhachkala in May, killing two people.
"By all appearances, he prepared Naida Asiyalova for her
suicide bombing," the police source said.
Vladimir, a man who said his daughter survived the bombing,
said many students were on the bus. "The blast was big, it was
huge," he told Ekho Moskvy radio. "When I came to pick her up,
half the bus was simply not there. It was scary. Very scary."
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Volgograd is a city of around 1 million people that lies 900
km (560 miles) southeast of Moscow and a few hundred kilometres
north of the North Caucasus and Sochi, at the western end of the
Caucasus range, where Russia will hold the Winter Olympics.
President Vladimir Putin has staked his reputation on the
Games and ordered authorities to boost security in the North
Caucasus, where the insurgency is rooted in two post-Soviet wars
pitting Chechen separatists against the Kremlin.
Putin's spokesman conveyed his condolences to the wounded
and relatives of the dead, but Putin made no public comment.
Insurgents who say they are fighting to create an Islamic
state have claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that
killed 37 people at a Moscow airport in 2011 and twin suicide
bombings that killed 40 people on the Moscow subway in 2010.
The latter attack was carried out female suicide bombers,
dubbed "black widows" in Russia because their male relatives
have often been killed by security forces.
In 2002, Chechen women wearing black chadors and suicide
belts also took part in a three-day Moscow theatre hostage siege
in which around 130 people were killed.