Russia: gastro-terrorists target Mickey-D’s?

Given the draconian measures against bird flu in Russia at the moment (ITAR-TASS, Feb. 9), this could be a protest against Chicken McNuggets. From AP, Feb. 19:

An explosion hit a McDonald’s restaurant in St Petersburg on Sunday, injuring at least six people, partially destroying a ceiling and breaking windows, an emergency official said.

The Interfax news agency said a bomb had detonated.

The blast occurred around 8.30pm local time (0430 Monday AEDT) at one of the restaurant chain’s outlets in the city centre, said Irina , a spokeswoman for the federal Emergency Situations Ministry.

Preliminary reports said six people were wounded. Four of them were hospitalised with various injuries, including concussions and cuts from flying glass.

Part of the restaurant’s ceiling collapsed and several windows were shattered or blown out.

Dozens of police kept reporters and onlookers away from the scene along Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg’s main avenue, as investigators and security agents combed the sidewalks for evidence.

Ekho Moskvy radio, citing witnesses, said the blast went off in the hand bag of one of the patrons in the restaurant.

There was no official indication of whether the explosion was a terrorist or criminal act, or whether it was accidental.

However, Interfax, citing an unnamed St Petersburg police official, said investigators were considering “hooliganism” as the main theory behind the blast.

St Petersburg police officials referred all questions to prosecutors, who could not be reached for comment this evening.

The St Petersburg news website said a German citizen was among the injured.

McDonald’s restaurants in Russia have been targets of both criminal gang disputes and terrorist attacks in the past.

In 2002, a car bombing at a McDonald’s restaurant in Moscow killed one person and injured eight.

Several Chechen men were later convicted in the blast, which prosecutors said was part of a series of attacks planned by Chechen rebels.

In 1998, a small bomb exploded at an unfinished McDonald’s restaurant in another part of St Petersburg. It was unclear whether investigators ever determined the motive behind that blast.

The restaurant’s construction was opposed by residents of buildings that were razed to make way for it.

See our last posts on Russia and McDonald’s. This may or may not have anything to do with Chechnya and the struggle in the Caucasus.