OTTAWA — Vigilance against terrorism at home and abroad emerged a common theme Monday as Canada’s political leaders offered condemnation and condolences following a deadly bomb blast at a bustling Moscow airport.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews all expressed Canada’s grief after a suicide bombing at Domodedovo Airport killed 35 people and injured 180 more.
“The use of violence against innocent people must never be tolerated and we condemn those responsible for this horrible act,” Harper said in a statement.
“The international community faces an ongoing threat of terrorism and must remain vigilant as we work together with our allies to prevent future attacks.”
There were no reports of Canadian casualties, but Canada’s embassy in Moscow was monitoring the situation, Harper said.
Cannon described the attack as a “cowardly act of terrorism.”
Toews said the attack highlighted the persistence of most terrorists and served as a pointed reminder of the need to remain vigilant.
“Terrorists simply do not give up when one avenue is closed, and that’s why I say, we make one mistake and a terrorist might be successful,” Toews said from Winnipeg.
“That’s why we have to continue to be very vigilant, not only in terms of legislation that we’re bringing through, but also in practical measures on the ground.”
The government works closely with the country’s airports to make sure all possible security measures are being implemented, he added.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff also condemned the attack, echoing the call for vigilance.
“There is no place for acts of terror that target innocent civilians,” he said. “This senseless act of violence reminds us that these attacks can occur anywhere, and we must remain vigilant against those who threaten terrorism to our own citizens at home and abroad.”
U.S. President Barack Obama described the attack as “outrageous” and offered support and resources to Russian investigators.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place late in the afternoon Moscow time, triggering chaos at one of Russia’s busiest travel hubs.
The terminal was engulfed by smoke and splattered with body parts after the explosion. Amateur video posted on YouTube showed a pile of bodies on the floor, and other bodies scattered around. Luggage lay strewn across the ground and several small fires burned.
Airport officials appeared to have beefed up security in response to the blast. Hours after the explosion, passengers arriving for their flights lined up outside waiting to pass through metal detectors that had been installed at all entrances.
Built in 1964, Domodedovo is located 42 kilometres southeast of Moscow and is the largest of the three major airports that serve the Russian capital, handling more than 22 million people last year. It 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 female bombers blew themselves up in mid-air, killing all 90 people aboard the two flights.
Some 77 airlines now offer regular flights to Domodedovo, serving 241 international and national routes, according to the airport’s website.
— With files from the Associated Press.