Four Russian stores hit with gas attacks

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Saint Petersburg

In Russia's second largest city, St. Petersburg, four gas attacks left more than 70 people ill. Devices with wires, timers, and glass vials of a gas determined on scene to be methyl mercaptan were found in outlets of Makisdom, a home improvement chain store. The chemical is both naturally occurring and manufactured and is used as an oderant for detection of propane or natural gas leaks.

Store officials have said that they had received threats that sales would be disrupted before New Year's. Russians traditionally give gifts on the holiday. Police officials said they believed a commercial dispute or a prank not terrorism.

The local emergency hospital was overflowed from the influx of ill people from the attacks. Valentina Matviyenko, Governer of St. Petersburg, said that those who sought medical help were not suffering any further medical problems.

A custodian at one of the stores found the devices and alerted police. The devices were found at another store with their vials broken. The devices in the two other stores were carried outside by employees and covered with buckets. The police explosives experts defused them.