Suicide bombing kills 20 in Russia

Suicide bombing kills 20 in Russia

Police station blast is the latest in a spate of attacks to hit the area in recent weeks

The blast hit the police headquarters in Nazran, the capital of Ingushetia, at around 9 am local time as many police officials were arriving at work.

The attack seemed to further undermine the authority of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, Ingushetia’s populist president who came to power in last October vowing a softer approach in dealing with rebel violence than Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of neighbouring Chechnya.

It was the bloodiest single attack to hit Ingushetia for some time, though violence against the police and government officials in this and other North Caucasus republics occurs almost daily.

Yevkurov himself announced last week that he would soon return to work after he was seriously wounded in a suicide attack on his convoy in June. Ingushetia’s construction minister, Ruslan Amirkhanov, was assassinated in his office last week.

“It was a suicide bomber,” said Kaloi Akhilgov, the spokesman for Ingushetia’s president. “He rammed the gate of the police headquarters, drove into the courtyard, and blew himself up.”

The blast occurred in a heavily populated area, not far from several banks and government buildings. A six-storey residential building nearby was also heavily damaged. More than 60 people were injured, the prosecutor general’s office said.  Akhilgov said 10 of the injured were children.

A spokeswoman for the Nazran central hospital said dozens of victims had arrived with severe burns and broken bones. The investigative wing of the Prosecutor General’s office put the death toll at 16, and said it was expected to rise.

The bombing comes just days after separate attacks in neighbouring Chechnya and Dagestan, killed over 20 people, including seven female employees of a sauna in Dagestan.

A former intelligence officer and a devout Muslim, Yevkurov reached out to opposition leaders as well as militant commanders in an attempt to ease the bubbling tensions in Ingushetia.

But the violence has continued, fuelled in part by the arrival of militants fleeing Kadyrov’s brutal counterinsurgency in Chechnya, where a decade and a half of internecine warfare has ground down the rebel movement to a paltry, though potent, few.

In a sign that Yevkurov’s experiment in reconciliation has failed, Kadyrov has sent Chechen commanders to Ingushetia to conduct counterterrorist operations there.

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