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People wait to pass through a metal detector at Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Monday. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called for tighter security after a suicide bombing at the airport killed 35. ((Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters) )

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev blamed airport security failures for a suicide bombing in Moscow that killed 35 people and wounded dozens, saying management needs to be held accountable.

"What happened shows that obviously there were violations in guaranteeing security," Medvedev said in comments released by the Kremlin on Tuesday. "And it should be answered for by those who make decisions there and by the management of the airport."

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Closed-circuit television footage shows a bomb exploding on Monday in Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport. The explosion killed 35 people and wounded dozens.

He described security as "simply a state of anarchy," and suggested officials of both the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service could be at fault for Monday's incident.

"I instruct the interior minister to suggest which ministry officials responsible for transport security could be dismissed or face other sanctions," Medvedev said.

Nikolai Sintsov, an official of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, also said "security measures at Domodedovo were insufficient; otherwise, nothing would have happened."

Domodedovo International Airport

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  • The airport is about 40 kilometres southeast of the city centre.
  • It's the largest airport in Russia in terms of passenger and cargo traffic.
  • Roughly 22 million travellers passed through the airport in 2010, Itar-Tass reported.
  • Canadian citizens in Moscow seeking information or consular assistance should contact the Canadian Embassy in Moscow at 8 (495) 925-6000 or call DFAIT's Emergency Operations Centre collect at 613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca

But airport spokesman Sergei Martirosian told the Interfax news agency Tuesday that inspection of people coming into the arrivals area is the responsibility of transport police, "and not our security service."

The blast ripped through the international arrivals area of the Domodedovo terminal at 4:32 p.m. local time. People without tickets are allowed to meet passengers in that area.

Passengers and workers were sprayed with shrapnel of screws and ball bearings, apparently intended to cause as many casualties as possible.

Airport security tightened

Aviation security experts have been warning since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. that the crowds at many airports present a tempting target for suicide bombers.

The latest bombing exposed the unprotected underbelly of airport security — the international arrivals area, packed with families, taxi drivers and businesspeople who do not go through airport security. Few airports in the world control the entrances to such areas.

The Domodedovo airport entrance to the arrivals meeting area had no metal detectors, although some were installed hours after the bombing.

Rafi Sela, a transportation security consultant, told CBC News that the attack on the busy Moscow airport arrivals area wasn't surprising.

"It was just a matter of time that the suicide bombers would start targeting people wherever they are and not necessarily on airplanes," he said in an interview.

The deadly blast has prompted authorities in the Czech Republic and Ukraine to increase airport security. In Prague, police spokeswoman Barbora Kudlackova said more officers would be on duty at Prague's Ruzyne airport and they would be bolstered with sniffer dogs and sharpshooters.

In Ukraine, airport spokeswoman Oksana Ozhogova said additional Interior Ministry troops had been deployed at Kiev's Boryspil airport. Police with sniffing dogs also were randomly checking passengers and their luggage for possible explosives.

In most countries, however, authorities said current airport security measures were sufficient to deal with possible threats.

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Airports are re-evaluating security systems after the Moscow bomber targeted the arrivals area, typically one of the least secure zones.

Representatives for Toronto's Pearson International Airport and the Halifax Stanfield International Airport told CBC News they have not changed their security procedures and said any new security measures would have to come from Transport Canada.

Britain's Department of Transport, responsible for Europe's busiest airport, London's Heathrow, and other key transport hubs, declined to comment on any possible new airport security measures, although such arrangements are constantly under review.

Putin vows 'retribution' for attack

Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have vowed to track down the people behind the attack.

"It is necessary to do everything possible to reveal, unmask and bring to justice those responsible for this crime," Medvedev said.

Putin said "retribution is inevitable" for the suicide bombing but did not elaborate on what kind of retribution he had in mind during a government meeting Tuesday.

While no one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, suspicions turned to militants from the North Caucasus.

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Visitors at Domodedovo airport place flowers at the blast site on Tuesday. ((Sergey Ponomarev/Associated Press))

Chechen insurgents have claimed responsibility for an array of attacks in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia, including a double suicide bombing on the capital's subway system in March that killed 40 people.

There were conflicting reports about how Monday's bombing was carried out. Some reports said there were two bombers, one of them a woman. Other reports said the attack was carried out by a 30- to 40-year-old man who was acting alone.

Of the 180 people hurt in the airport attack, 110, including nine foreigners, were hospitalized, health officials said.

Moscow health-care chief Leonid Pechatnikov told the Ria-Novosti news agency that about 30 of the people hospitalized after the attack were operated on overnight. There was no word on their condition.

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With files from The Associated Press