Suicide truck bomb kills 20 in Russia

NAZAN: A suicide bomber exploded a truck at a police station in Russia’s North Caucasus today, killing at least 20 people and wounding about 60 others, officials said.

The bombing was the deadliest in months in the restive southern region, denting Kremlin claims

that the area was

stabilising after 15 years of separatist fighting in Chechnya and violence in surrounding provinces.

The attacker rammed the gates of the Nazran city police headquarters, in Ingushetia province, and detonated his explosives as police officers were lining up for a morning check, said Svetlana Gorbakova of the regional branch of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General’s office.

Police had fired shots at the truck, but failed to stop it. The blast triggered a fire that raged for hours, destroying a weapons room where ammunition detonated. A nearby apartment building and several office buildings were also

damaged, and burnt-out cars littered the street.

At least 20 people were killed, Gorbakova said, though official figures on the number of wounded varied. Gorbakova said 57 people were hurt, including 10 in critical condition. Ruslan Koloyev, the acting head of the Emergency Ministry’s branch in Ingushetia, said on Rossiya television that 92 people were injured.

An Associated Press reporter saw 11 badly burnt bodies at a morgue in Nazran, the largest city in Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya to the west.

Local authorities announced a three-day mourning.

The attacker and the truck were pulverised by the blast, said Svetlana Gorbakova of the regional branch of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General’s office.

While large-scale fighting from the two wars that

ravaged Chechnya since 1994 has ended, Islamic militants continue to mount regular hit-and-run attacks and skirmishes. Bloodshed has surged in recent months and increasingly spilled into provinces neighbouring Chechnya.

Ingushetia’s Kremlin-appointed president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, was badly wounded in a suicide bombing in June and has yet to return to his duties.

Yevkurov said Monday’s suicide attack had been organised by militants trying to avenge recent security sweeps in the forests along the mountainous border with Chechnya.

“It was an attempt to destabilize the situation and sow panic,” Yevkurov said in a statement issued through his spokesman.

Speaking in an interview with Russian News Service radio, Yevkurov blamed Chechen separatist warlord Doku Umarov for staging June’s suicide attack on his convoy. He said law enforcement had tracked down the perpetrators of the attack, and would hunt down Umarov and other rebel warlords.