A suicide bomber blew himself up at a police station in a troubled Russian province on Monday, killing two officers and wounding two others as Islamic insurgency continues to spread across the region.
The bomber’s car exploded later, wounding an investigator.
The attack took place in Ingushetia, a primarily Muslim province in the impoverished North Caucasus area, in south-western Russia. Ingushetia, Dagestan and other Caucasus provinces have been plagued by attacks and bombings by Islamic militants who have spread across the region after two separatist wars in neighbouring Chechnya.
The violence is increasingly being described as a civil war between Kremlin-supported administrations and Islamic rebels. Widespread abuse of civilians by the police, including abduction, torture and killing, have swelled the militants’ ranks.
Dagestan, wedged between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, was the site of two suicide bombings on Wednesday that killed 12 people, mostly police officers. Another explosion there on Thursday killed two suspected militants. On Sunday, two powerful explosions derailed a cargo train, but no one was injured.
And a week ago, two suicide bombers killed 40 commuters and wounded 121 on the Moscow subway - the city’s first terrorist attack since 2004. Authorities have blamed militants from the North Caucasus.
In Ingushetia, the attacker detonated his explosives at police headquarters in the town of Karabulak, said regional prosecutor Yuri Turygin.
More officers were lining up for roll call inside the compound, and investigators believe they may have been the target. But the attacker set off his explosive belt when the police at the entrance demanded his ID.
About half an hour later, a vehicle he had parked outside the headquarters exploded, wounding an investigator inspecting the area after the first blast. The explosions damaged the police headquarters and nearby residential buildings and destroyed several cars.
There have been several previous suicide bombings at police stations in the Caucasus.
In the deadliest, in August, an assailant crashed a bomb-laden van through the gates of the police station in Nazran, Ingushetia’s main city, killing 24 people and injuring more than 200.
Another suicide bomber blew up a car at a police station in Dagestan in January, killing six officers and wounding at least 16 people.
And the Moscow subway bombing may be linked to Dagestan, as well: One of the two suicide bombers has been identified as the 17-year-old widow of a slain Islamic militant from Dagestan. Russian media published what they said were the pictures of the bomber, Dzhanet Abdurakhmanova, partly veiled, in the embrace of a bearded man. Both were holding handguns.
The Moskovsky Komsomolets daily newspaper quoted residents of her home village as saying that she and her older sister had grown up without a father. The paper quoted an elementary school teacher, Vagidat Musafayeva, as saying Abdurakhmanova was the best in her class.
“Dzhanet tried to be the best in everything,” the paper quoted the teacher as saying. “She read verses and danced very well.”
Moskovsky Komsomolets said Abdurakhmanova was deeply in love with her rebel husband, who “replaced both father and mother for her,” as a neighbour put it.
A Russian newspaper reported on Monday that the second Moscow suicide bomber may have been a 28-year-old schoolteacher, also from Dagestan. Novaya Gazeta quoted the woman’s father as saying he recognized her in a photograph.
Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov, claimed responsibility for the Moscow subway bombings, saying they were retaliation for the killing of civilians by Russian security forces.