Russia’s Investigative Committee says a gas leak remains the likely cause of a deadly apartment collapse last month in Magnitogorsk after the extremist group Islamic State (IS) said it had bombed the building.
Thirty nine people were killed in the partial building collapse in Magnitogorsk on December 31.
"The investigators have been considering every possible theory of the tragedy since day one. The theory of a household gas explosion remains a priority. Please note that forensic technicians have found no traces of explosives or their components in the samples taken from the scene," said Svetlana Petrenko, a spokesperson for the Investigative Committee.
Her comments to Interfax on January 18 come after a website that monitors extremist organizations said that IS had claimed it had bombed the building.
The SITE Intelligence Group said on January 17 that IS "claimed credit for the apartment building explosion and subsequent bus bombing" in the city in the southern Urals in its weekly periodical, Al-Naba.
Some Russian media sites have reported that the apartment building was targeted with explosives by three men, whom they have identified as radical Islamists.
According to these unconfirmed reports, the three men were killed on January 1 near the site of the blast as they tried to break out of a police cordon in a minibus. At the time, police said an exploding gas canister inside the vehicle caused it to burst into flames.
IS claimed responsibility for the Magnitogorsk explosion in its Al Naba newspaper late on January 17. IS said its operatives had planted explosives that triggered the partial collapse of the 10-story apartment building.
IS did not provide proof to support its claim, saying only that a "security unit" had carried out the attack before safely withdrawing.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said the IS claim should not be taken seriously.
"I suggest journalists do not trust statements from terrorist organizations, who as you know falsely take credit for all high-profile incidents in different countries," Petrenko said in a later statement on January 18.
Several deadly apartment-building explosions in Russia in the past 25 years have been blamed on militants from the North Caucasus. Household gas blasts have also been blamed for many such disasters.