A woman has been arrested outside a metro station in Moscow after reportedly being seen holding a young child's severed head on Monday morning, according to officials and videos posted on Russian newswire websites.
Police officers tackled the woman after she was seen shouting outside the entrance to the Russian capital's Oktyabrskoye Pole station.
The woman's arrest has been linked to a house fire in an apartment in the northwest of the city where a child's headless body was found, according to multiple reports in Russian media, citing a statement released by authorities.
The Moscow Investigative Committee said: "After the fire was extinguished, the body of a child aged between 3 and 4 was found with signs of violent death."
"According to preliminary investigations, the child's nanny — a citizen of one of the Central Asian states, born in 1977, waited until the parents left the apartment with an older child and, for unknown reasons, committed the murder of a minor, set fire to the apartment, and left the scene."
The mother of the allegedly murdered child was taken by an ambulance to the hospital in an unconscious state.
Moscow's Federal Migration Service told, RIA Novosti – Russia's federal news agency – that the woman was from Uzbekistan and was working for the family illegally.
Prior to her arrest, the woman wandered down the street talking to herself and yelling "Allahu Akbar," witnesses reported, threatening passers-by and the police in Russian, and saying she was going to blow herself up. No explosives were found on or near the woman upon her arrest.
A criminal investigation has been opened, and the suspect is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, the Investigative Committee statement added.
Multiple Russian news agencies cited an unnamed police source as suggesting the woman may have been under the influence of psychotropic drugs.
CCTV footage published on Sputnik News — the English-language arm of state-run Rossiya Segonda agency — appeared to show police officers tackling a woman wearing a hijab outside the station, as an object — presumed to be the head — dropped to the ground.
Warning: This footage is graphic.
Sputnik also posted another, graphic video, purportedly filmed at street level by an eyewitness on their smartphone, which showed a woman shouting outside the station while holding what appeared to be the head.
The video showed her threatening to blow herself up, and shouting extremist slogans, Sputnik reported.
"I am a terrorist, I want your death," the woman can be heard yelling in accented Russian during a jumbled diatribe in which she appears to make reference to the end of the world and criticize democracy.
The gruesome incident sparked fear in some onlookers, Reuters reported, who worried they were witnessing an act of terror.
Russian security services have been on high alert for a possible terrorist attack ever since a Russian plane was blown from the sky above Sinai, Egypt in October, killing all 224 passengers.
Khudaiberdiyev Ibrahim, president of the all-Russian congress of Uzbeks, told RIA Novosti that the congress is ready to help with the investigation in any way possible, adding in Russian that the incident "does not correspond to any of our ideologies, nor that of Uzbek mothers."
Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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