Moscow police arrested a woman who held aloft the severed head of a 4-year-old child authorities said she was hired to care for.
The suspect was captured on video shouting that she was a terrorist. Investigators accused her of murdering the girl in a grisly and unprecedented incident that shocked many Russians.
Police wrestled the woman to the ground outside the Oktyabrskoye Pole metro station in northwestern Moscow on February 29, moments after she pulled the head from a bag.
Internet-posted video of the horrific scene shows a woman dressed in black and wearing what looks like an Islamic head scarf. Media reports cited witnesses as saying she was heard shouting, “Allahu Akbar.”
According to Russia media, the woman has been identified as 39-year-old nanny Gyulchekhra Bobokulova, a native of the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan in Central Asia. Moscow police said she has been taken in for psychiatric examination.
In online video of the incident, the woman could be heard shouting in Russian with a Central Asian accent.
She said: “I am a terrorist. I will die, but you all will be punished.”
Police confirmed that Bobokulova was carrying the head of a 4-year-old Russian child she had been hired to babysit.
Russian media reports referred to the victim as Nastya M.
What is believed to be the child’s decapitated body had been discovered earlier by firefighters sent to put out a fire at the child’s Moscow home.
The local branch of the federal Investigative Committee said it suspects the babysitter waited until the parents and an older child had left the apartment before killing the child and starting the fire.
According to Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, Bobokulova also shouted, “I hate democracy.”
'I Will Blow Up All Of You'
An eyewitness told the newspaper that she and others who saw the woman at first thought she was carrying the head of a doll. The eyewitness said Bobokulova also shouted, “They killed my child. I will blow up all of you.”
Police closed the metro station as a precaution but found no explosives on the woman. Police are not currently treating the case as terrorism.
LifeNews, a news service known for its close ties to law enforcement agencies, said that when police approached the woman for a document check she responded by taking the head out of her bag and started yelling that she had killed a child.
Russia's Interior Ministry declined to comment.
The dead girl reportedly had learning difficulties and could not walk.
Media reports said the family -- the girl, her parents, and her 15-year-old brother -- were from the Oryol region in western Russia and were renting the apartment in Moscow.
The girl’s mother, who works at a wedding shop, was rushed to the hospital after hearing what happened to her daughter, media reports said. The father worked as a technician at a mobile phone company.
As evening fell, a pile of flowers and plush toys left by sympathetic Muscovites on a bench outside the building where the girl was allegedly killed was growing.
One report said the parents told police the nanny had been working for them for 18 months, while another said she had been with them for more than three years and had recently traveled back to Uzbekistan.
The tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets cited an unidentified friend of the family as saying that Bobokulova had come highly recommended, lived in the apartment with the family, and had worked as a nanny for others before.
Islamic militants based in Russia’s North Caucasus have carried out numerous deadly bombings in Moscow over the past two decades, but there have been no reports of incidents like this one.
The alleged killing occurred amid persistent fears of potential attacks by Islamic State militants or other extremists in Russia.
The rise of IS has contributed to long-standing tensions between Russians and people from Central Asia and the Caucasus who come to the country in search of work.
With reporting by Komsomolskaya Pravda, Interfax, AFP, Reuters, and TV Rain