Russian President Vladimir Putin is describing a supermarket explosion in St. Petersburg earlier this week as an act of terrorism.
"You know that yesterday in St. Petersburg a terrorist act was carried out," Putin said, during an awards ceremony for veterans in the Kremlin on Thursday. He also spoke about Russia's campaign in Syria, stating that acts of terrorism in Russia would be much worse if Putin's own policies preventing Russian citizens who had fought for the Islamic State from returning had not been implemented, according to Reuters.
"What would have happened if those thousands of people . . . returned to us (from Syria). If they returned with good weapons training . . " Putin asked.
The blast occurred on Wednesday evening in the Perekrestok supermarket chain, injuring 13 people in the process. Investigators currently believe that the explosion was caused by a homemade bomb packed with pieces of metal that served as shrapnel. Russian news outlets claim that the bomb was hidden inside a rucksack and left in a locker, adding that CCTV had caught the person who left the bomb there and that he had a "non-Slavic appearance."
Putin's Thursday speech also included tough talk, according to The New York Times. He reportedly told Russian law enforcement to adopt a "take no prisoners" approach toward terrorists and proclaimed that if the lives of Russian citizens or officers are threatened, "to liquidate the bandits on the spot."
Putin's speech comes a little more than three months before he is up for reelection for a fourth term as the nation's president. The only candidate capable of running a viable opposition to Putin, anticorruption activist Alexei Navalny, was barred from running due to an embezzlement conviction that he claims was trumped up to neutralize his candidacy. Navalny is currently under investigation for calling for street protests and a boycott of the vote.