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MOSCOW, August 17 (RIA Novosti) - The explosion of a natural gas pipeline near Khasavyurt in Russia's southern republic of Dagestan could have been caused by a bomb, a police spokesman told RIA Novosti on Monday.
According to the spokesman, suspicious objects were found near the blast area that could be pieces from an explosive, although he did not rule out other explanations.
"Experts are investigating the cause of the incident, but there is the possibility it was due to a break in the sealing," he said.
The incident occurred at 2:30 a.m. local time on Monday [GMT 22:30 on Sunday]
ROSTOV-ON-DON, August 17 (RIA Novosti) - The number of dead from Monday's powerful explosion that rocked the center of Nazran, Ingushetia's largest city, has reached 19, with 79 injured, an official at the republic's Health Ministry said.
According to police, the blast occurred near the city's police headquarters early Monday morning, and may have been caused by a car bomb.
"At about 09:08 a.m. Moscow time [05:08 GMT] a yellow GAZelle truck broke through a gate at a check point near the building. A powerful explosion followed shortly after that," a local investigator told RIA Novosti.
Earlier it was reported that 12 people had died with between 58 and 65 injured, including at least nine children.
At least four people have been taken to hospitals in neighboring North Ossetia as medical staff in Nazran struggle to cope with the influx of casualties.
Reports from the scene say the fire is now under control. More than 80 firefighters were involved in tackling the blaze which has been further complicated by exploding ammunition in the weapons store.
"The fire virtually destroyed the building. There may still be people in the debris," an emergencies ministry spokesman told RIA Novosti, adding that the painstaking work of shifting through the rubble would continue into the evening.
Russia's mainly Muslim North Caucasus regions have seen a rise in violence in recent months. Attacks on police, officials and troops have been reported almost daily in Ingushetia and neighboring Dagestan that border Chechnya, which saw two separatist wars in the late 1990s-early 2000s.
Ingushetia's construction minister was gunned down in his office last Wednesday; the murder followed the killing of a Supreme Court judge and the attempted assassination of the republic's president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, in late June. Last month the Ingush forensic chief was also gunned down.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called the increased terrorist activity in the Caucasus "an attempt to destabilize the situation in the region."
At least 20 people have been killed and another 57 injured, including nine children, in a powerful explosion in the city of Nazran in Russia’s Southern Republic of Ingushetia.
That’s according to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General's office.
A terrorist drove his light commercial vehicle, Gazelle, filled with explosives estimated from 20 to 50 kilograms of TNT, into the courtyard of the building housing the police headquarters.
He chose the time of the 9 O’clock morning formation of personnel.
The explosion destroyed part of the building, setting the rest of it on fire. 80 fire-fighters and members of the Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) are working on the site and have already put the fire out. They continue to look for survivors under the debris.
RIA Novosti news agency informs that law-enforcement agencies of Ingushetia knew about the attack beforehand and were looking for the vehicle with explosive, but did not manage to spot it in time.
When the terrorist, in a commercial vehicle, headed into the closed gates of the yard in front of republic’s police headquarters, the guards opened fire at the truck but did not succeed in neutralizing the militant. Once the vehicle got inside the courtyard, an explosion rocked the premises.
The police headquarters building has been completely destroyed by the blast and the fire that followed. The ammunition and cartridges stored inside the building also exploded. More than 20 cars parked in the courtyard have been burned out.
The nearby apartment houses of bearing-wall construction have also being damaged and many of the people living in them were injured when all the windows were instantly blown out. Emergency teams are working to evacuate the area.
A human head was found some 50 meters from the epicenter of the explosion. It allegedly belongs to the kamikaze-terrorist who exploded his car this morning. If so, it will significantly facilitate his identification and give a vital boost to investigators.
The president of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who himself has just been discharged from hospital in Moscow after a suicide bomb attack in June, ordered a tightening of the security of federal properties in Ingushetia.
Prosecutor’s office spokesman Vladimir Markin said, “The most likely motives are revenge for the war that police are waging against militants, or an attempt to destabilize the situation in the region.”
The leadership of the republic categorically links this terror attack is an attempt by militants to destabilize the situation in the region once its president has returned to his duties.
President Yevkurov is connecting the attack to the tightening of security operations against militants on the border with the neighboring Chechen Republic.
The Ministry of Emergency Situations is sending a heavy transport aircraft with medical equipment to the Republic of Ingushetia.
Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has formed a special commission to investigate the case.
Local authorities have announced three days of mourning in the republic.
A criminal case on several charges including murder has been opened.
Twenty people have died and 118 were wounded after a suicide bomb blast at the regional police headquarters in Russia's turbulent republic of Ingushetia.
According to a police source, a bomber rammed his truck filled with explosives through a check point of the police station, as officers were gathering for their morning line up.
The powerful blast was followed by a series of secondary explosions of munitions stored at the building.
A nearby apartment block was also damaged, with people inside wounded by broken glass and debris.
At least nine of the injured were reported to be children.
The bombing is the latest in the series of increasingly brazen attacks on government officials and police in Ingushetia and Dagestan - small southern regions bordering Chechnya.
Ingushetia's president Yunus-Bek Yevkurov is still undergoing treatment after being seriously wounded in a suicide bomber attack on his convoy in June.
In a separate strike last week, Ingushetia's construction minister was shot dead at point-blank range in his own office, in the region's heavily-fortified capital city of Magas.
Struggling to bring stability to North Caucasus, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev has recently called on Chechnya's president Ramzan Kadyrov to fight terrorism beyond Chechnya's borders.
But, according to human rights organisations, the brutal tactics employed in Chechnya and exported across the region are fuelling the insurgency.
They point to numerous cases of alleged abductions, extra-judicial killings and use of torture by local police forces.
"The Kremlin has paid the cost of entrusting the handling of the situation in the North Caucasus to regional leaders that rely on methods that are brutal, "said political analyst Masha Lipman.
"This has lead to a vicious circle of punitive measures and retaliatory attacks of those suppressed - both of political opponents and Islamist extremists."
Earlier this year, the Kremlin announced the end of the 10-year long "counter-terrorism operation" in Chechnya.
But, as the insurgency is appearing to engulf the larger region, the Kremlin may need to find a new tactic to fight this hidden war.