Four killed, three injured in Chechnya suicide attack
MOSCOW: A suicide bombing in Chechnya on Monday killed four people and injured three in the latest violence in the Russian region where the Kremlin fought two wars with separatists over the past 20 years.
Two officers and a soldier died in the explosion when their armoured vehicle travelling between the garrison town of Khankala and the capital of Grozny made a stop, Vasily Panchenkov, a spokesman for the interior ministry troops, said.
“They got out of the vehicle. A blast took place,” he told AFP, adding that a civilian was also killed.
In a conflicting report, Moscow-based investigators said two suicide bombers were involved and the fourth body “probably” belonged to one of them.
They said the servicemen were killed near the entrance to a store on the outskirts of Grozny. Three more servicemen received serious injuries and were admitted to hospital, Panchenkov said.
He said the blast was detonated by a bomber with a suicide belt, adding that body fragments believed to belong to the attacker were found at the scene.
In separate statements, the Chechen interior ministry and Moscow-based investigators said however there were two suicide bombers.
“Measures are being taken to identify terrorists and find their possible accomplices,” the regional interior ministry said.
“The situation in the city remains calm. All organisations, offices, shops, markets and public transport continue to operate,” it said.
The Kremlin fought two post-Soviet wars against separatists in Chechnya and the violence has since spread into the nearby regions of Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.
Russia in 2009 formally ended a decade-long “counter-terror” operation in Chechnya, citing the return of relative stability to the mainly Muslim region.
But attacks on government officials and police including by suicide bombers remain frequent in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus.
Critics say the continuing violence exposes the hollowness of the Kremlin’s claims to have imposed control and stability in the region under hardline leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
A former insurgent, Kadyrov, 35, took power in Chechnya after his father, Akhmat Kadyrov, was killed in a bomb attack as he attended a Victory Day concert in the volatile region in 2004.
Human rights activists accuse Kadyrov of presiding over a personal militia that carries out rampant rights abuses, torture and even murder.
Last October Chechnya celebrated Kadyrov’s 35th birthday with elaborate festivities attended by Hollywood actors Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kevin Costner and Hilary Swank.