Suicide bomber strikes in Russian Caucasus

Six policemen killed at funeral just hours after gunmen opened fire at mosque in Dagestan, wounding eight worshippers.

    Six policemen have died in the volatile Russian Caucasus region of Ingushetia in a suicide bombing at the funeral of their colleague, Russia's Investigative Committee has said.

    "In a private house where the funeral was taking place for a neighbourhood policeman, a suicide bomber triggered an explosive device on his body," the committee, which investigates major killings, said in a statement on Sunday.

    "As a result of the explosion, according to preliminary information, seven people died including the suicide bomber, and there are also wounded whose number is being clarified," the statement said.

    The RIA Novosti news agency cited Akhmed Kotiyev, the secretary of the regional security council, as saying that 11 people were wounded in the attack.

    Ingushetia's leader, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, called the bombing as Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan a "terrorist" attack.

    "According to preliminary information it was carried out by a terrorist suicide bomber," Yevkurov told Interfax, calling the attack "monstrous".

    Co-ordinated strikes

    A severed head found at the scene of the blast was believed to be that of the suicide bomber, Yevkurov said.

    "We are working on finding out whose head is lying at the scene of the explosion, and we will establish the identity of the bandit," he said.

    The funeral was for a fellow officer killed in a shooting on Saturday evening in the Malgobek district in the north of the region, Interfax reported.

    The 26-year-old neighbourhood police officer in Malgobek died in hospital after several attackers shot him with automatic rifles late Saturday, the Ingushetia investigative committee said in a statement.

    Yevkurov speculated that the initial shooting of the policeman was intended to be followed by the suicide bombing at the funeral.

    "Based on the information we have, the armed attack at night on the neighbourhood police officer, who died from wounds in hospital, was specially planned so as to arrange a terrorist attack at the funeral," he told Interfax.

    Earlier attack

    The explosion came hours after masked gunmen opened fire in a mosque in Dagestan on Saturday as worshippers celebrated the end of Ramadan, wounding eight and leaving an explosive device that was later deactivated.

    The attackers "left beside the mosque a gas cylinder packed with an explosive substance inside a bag. The device has been deactivated and destroyed on the spot by security services," the Investigative Committee said in a statement Sunday.

    It said it had opened criminal probes into attempted murder, weapons trafficking and preparation of explosives.

    Russia is fighting a simmering Islamist insurgency in the Caucasus, mostly in Dagestan and Ingushetia, which see regular attacks that officials blame on militants seeking to establish an Islamic state across the Russian Caucasus.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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