Suicide bomber kills seven in Russian Caucasus: official
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Chechen Police officers and investigators are seen after a bomb blast, with human body parts in the road in Grozny, Chechnya, southern Russia, on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012. AP photo
A suicide bomber killed seven policemen Sunday in the volatile Russian North Caucasus at the funeral of their colleague, hours after masked gunmen opened fire in a mosque, wounding eight.
The attack on the funeral in the region of Ingushetia left seven policemen dead, up from an earlier death toll of six, spokesman for the regional emergency situations ministry told AFP.
Fifteen people were wounded in the blast, which occurred as Muslims celebrate the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the spokesman said.
"A terrorist suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of people who had come to see off the policeman," said the leader of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, in comments published by the local government.
Yevkurov told the Interfax news agency that a severed head found at the scene of attack was believed to be that of the suicide bomber.
"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," Yevkurov said.
The policemen died at the funeral of a fellow officer, Ilez Korigov, who had been killed in a shooting on Saturday evening in the Malgobek district in the north of the region, investigators said.
Yevkurov speculated that the attack at the funeral, which was held at a private home, was planned by the organisers of Korigov's shooting.
"It's an attack planned in advance, directly linked to the murder of Ilez Korigov, by those who knew that all his colleagues would come to bid farewell to their comrade-in-arms," he said in his official statement.
The explosion came hours after masked gunmen opened fire in a mosque in Dagestan on Saturday evening as worshippers celebrated the end of Ramadan, wounding eight and leaving an explosive device that was later deactivated.
The two 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," Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement Sunday.
It said it had opened criminal probes into attempted murder, weapons trafficking and preparation of explosives.
A source at a regional hospital told the RIA Novosti news agency that one of those hospitalised later died, but this report could not be immediately confirmed.
The attacks came as Russian Muslims hold mass celebrations for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, known as Uraza-Bayram in Russian, marking the end of Ramadan.
The Russian Council of Muftis estimated Sunday that in Moscow alone around 190,000 people took part in Eid al-Fitr prayers.
The attackers chose "a day holy for every Muslim," Yevkurov said.
The attacks were the latest in Russia apparently timed around the Ramadan period.
Just before Ramadan began in July, the most senior Muslim cleric in Tatarstan, a central Russian area that is around half-Muslim, survived a car bombing, while his former deputy died in a simultaneous shooting.
The attacks were deliberately timed to coincide with the religious dates, political analyst Alexei Makarkin told Moscow Echo radio station.
"They consider they are killing enemies and turncoats, and when that happens on a holiday, they consider they did something good on that day," he said.
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.