Eight killed in end-of-Ramadan suicide attacks in Chechnya
Eight people, mainly police officers, were killed and more than 20 injured in two suicide bomb blasts in Chechnya as Russia's Muslim region feted the end of the Ramadan holy month, officials said on Wednesday.
Three suicide bombers blew themselves up the day before in the Chechen capital Grozny, killing five policemen, an emergencies ministry official and a passer-by and wounding more than 20.
"One more policeman died at dawn," spokesman for Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov told AFP.
The spokesman, Alvi Karimov, said 22 people remained hospitalised, five of whom were in a "very serious" condition.
The attacks came on the day that Muslims were celebrating Uraza Bairam (Eid al-Fitr), the feast marking the end of the Ramadan holy month of fasting.
"Thousands of people are shedding tears instead of celebrating," Karimov said.
The first bomb went off as police were attempting to arrest a suspect on a road in Grozny to check his papers.
The second blast came quickly afterwards at the same place and was triggered by two more suicide bombers, officials said.
Twin suicide bombings have been the hallmark of Islamists militants fighting to establish an independent Islamic state across the North Caucasus.
The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the North Caucasus since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a war in 1994-1996 against separatist rebels in Chechnya.
After a second war in Chechnya in 1999, the rebellion's inspiration moved towards Islam with the aim of imposing an Islamic state in the region.
Although the war ended in 2000, rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency, with the unrest spreading into other areas of the North Caucasus.
Last October the Chechen parliament was attacked by a small group of militants who killed three people before being killed or blowing themselves up.
In August last year the militants carried out a large-scale attack on Kadyrov's home village.
© 2011 AFP