News World World Cup 2018: Terror scare in Moscow as cabbie mows down Red Square soccer fans

World Cup 2018: Terror scare in Moscow as cabbie mows down Red Square soccer fans

Pedestrians are flung every which way as the cab mounts the footpath in Moscow. Photo: YouTube
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Three people injured when a taxi drove into pedestrians in central Moscow will be released from hospital in coming days, state news agency RIA cites a city health official as saying.

Moscow police say initial investigations indicate the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel, swerving into pedestrians near the Kremlin on Saturday.

Seven people were injured, including two Mexicans visiting the city for the soccer World Cup, which Russia is hosting.

Moscow’s traffic management authority earlier said the taxi driver had a driver’s licence issued in Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim ex-Soviet republic. It cited the driver, who was in police custody, as saying he had not driven into the crowd on purpose.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said in a post on Twitter: “There was an unpleasant incident with a taxi. The driver lost control of the vehicle.”

The city’s police said they had opened a criminal investigation into a suspected violation of the traffic code.

The Mexican embassy in Moscow said two Mexican women had been lightly injured. Also among those hurt were a Ukrainian and two Russian citizens, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted a source in the emergency services as saying.

Video of the incident posted on social media showed the yellow Hyundai taxi pull sharply out of a line of stationary traffic, accelerate and mount the narrow pavement, which was packed with pedestrians.

The vehicle drove for about 10 metres along the pavement, bowling over pedestrians, with some of them being carried along on the bonnet of the car.

The taxi came to a halt after hitting a traffic sign. As bystanders tried to pull open the driver’s side door, the driver, dressed in black trousers and a black T-shirt, jumped out and sprinted away.

More bystanders chased after him and could be seen trying to tackle him to the ground as the footage ended.

Bystanders give chase as the rogue cabbie, in black, attempts to flee the scene of the rampage. Photo: AP/Viktoria Geranovich

A witness told Reuters that some of the people hit were wearing Mexican team colours. Mexico takes on Germany on Sunday, local time, in their first World Cup match at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, and thousands of Mexican fans are in the Russian capital.

A second witness at the scene told Reuters about the driver of the taxi: “He was pulled out of the vehicle. He ran off but bystanders apprehended him. He was shouting: ‘It wasn’t me’.”

Moscow’s traffic management authority said the driver was not drunk and Interfax news agency cited a source saying there was no alcohol in his blood.

The same source told Interfax the driver had said he fell asleep at the wheel and accidentally pressed the accelerator pedal.

Russian authorities have vowed to host a safe soccer World Cup, which Russia is hosting for the first time. It is taking place in 11 cities until July 15.

In central Moscow, authorities have installed heavy concrete blocks across the entrances to pedestrian areas following a spate of incidents in European cities in which vehicles were used to mow down people.

The US State Department on Friday updated its travel advice on Russia, saying terrorist groups were plotting attacks.

The Moscow traffic authority posted on Twitter a copy of what it said was the taxi driver’s licence. It gave his name as Chingiz Anarbek Uulu and said he was born on April 22, 1990.

It gave his birthplace as the town of Kochkor-Ata in Kyrgyzstan, near the border with Uzbekistan.