New suicide blasts kill 12 in southern Russia

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 16:29

Makhachkala, Russia: Two suicide bombers including one impersonating a police officer killed 12 people in southern Russia on Wednesday, two days after deadly suicide bombings blamed on the region`s militants tore through the Moscow subway system.

Wednesday`s blasts in the province of Dagestan came despite Prime Minister Vladimir Putin`s vow to "drag out of the sewer" the terrorists who carried out the Moscow attacks, which killed 39 and injured scores more.

There have been no claims of responsibility for either set of attacks.

Bombings and other attacks occur almost daily in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia, provinces in Russia`s North Caucasus region where government forces are struggling against a separatist Islamist insurgency.

The Moscow subway bombings were the first suicide attacks in the capital in six years and shocked a country that had grown accustomed to such violence being confined to its restive southern corner. Those attacks followed a recent warning from an Islamic militant leader that the militants would bring their struggle to the heart of Russia.

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber detonated explosives when police tried to stop the bomber`s car in the town of Kizlyar near Dagestan`s border with Chechnya, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said in televised comments.

"Traffic police followed the car and almost caught up — at that time the blast hit," Nurgaliyev said.

As investigators and residents gathered at the scene of the blast, a second bomber wearing a police uniform approached and set off explosives, killing the town`s police chief among others, Nurgaliyev said. A school and police station nearby were also damaged.

At least 23 people were injured in both blasts, authorities said.

Grainy cell phone video footage posted on the life.ru news portal showed the moment of the second blast, with officials wandering past a destroyed building before a loud clap rings out and smoke rises in the distance.

Police and security services are a frequent target in part because they represent the Kremlin — the militants` ideological enemy — but also because of their heavy-handed tactics. Police have been accused of involvement in many killings, kidnappings and beatings in the region, further alienating residents.

In January in Makhachkala, Dagestan`s capital, a suicide bomber blew up an explosives-packed car at a police station, killing six officers, and in August, 24 died and more than 200 were injured when a man crashed a bomb-laden van into the police station in Nazran, Ingushetia.

The violence has continued despite Kremlin efforts to stem it. President Dmitry Medvedev, who recently said the militants had spread through the North Caucasus "like a cancerous tumor," this year appointed a deputy prime minister to oversee the troubled region and address the root causes of terrorism, including dire poverty and corruption.

Rebels from the North Caucasus were accused of masterminding the Moscow attack, but no claims of responsibility have been made. Speculation has been rife that the attacks were retaliation for the recent police killings of high-profile militants in the North Caucasus.

Monday`s subway bombings, carried out by two women, were the first terrorist attacks in Moscow since 2004.

The first blast struck the Lubyanka station in central Moscow, beneath the headquarters of the Federal Security Service or FSB, the KGB`s main successor agency. The FSB is a symbol of power under Putin, a former KGB officer who headed the agency before his election as president in 2000.

About 45 minutes later, a second blast hit the Park Kultury station on the same subway line, which is near the renowned Gorky Park. In both cases, the bombs were detonated as the trains pulled into the stations and the doors were opening.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 16:29

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