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Six dead in market blast in Russian Caucasus: reports

At least six people were killed on Thursday and dozens wounded in an explosion at the central market in the Russian Caucasus city of Vladikavkaz, reports said.

The Interfax news agency quoted a local interior ministry source as saying the blast appeared to have come from a car that blew up at the entrance to the market.

The ITAR-TASS news agency said that the power of the blast shattered windows of nearby buildings.

ITAR-TASS quoted security sources as saying that six people had been killed and dozens wounded. Interfax gave the same toll, quoting local health officials, adding that 50 peope had been wounded.

North Ossetia lies in Russia’s troubled Northern Caucasus region, north of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia over which Moscow and Tbilisi fought a war in August 2008.

It is the only majority Christian region in Russia’s largely Muslim North Caucasus and neighbours the Muslim region of Ingushetia which has been beset by deadly attacks over the last months.

Interfax said the blast had been caused by explosives weighing 10 kilogrammes of TNT equivalent. ITAR-TASS said there was panic at the market amid fears there could be a second explosion.

“A second threat is not ruled out and at the current moment the perimetre of the market and nearby roads is being encircled,” a local interior ministry spokesman told ITAR-TASS.

It said the explosion went off at the entrance to the market, which is usually crowded as it is where employers recruit potential employees.

Although it has seen increasing unrest over the past years, North Ossetia has traditionally been more stable than the Muslim regions of the North Caucasus.

In November 2008, the mayor of the city was killed when an assassin shot him in the chest near his home.

Russia has been on a state of high alert after the double bombings carried out by two female suicide bombers on the Moscow metro on March 29 killed 40 and wounded more than 100.

The Kremlin fought two wars against separatist rebels in Chechnya in the 1990s but the insurgency has now become more Islamist in tone and has spread to neighbouring Ingushetia and Dagestan.