Hundreds protest after deadly Caucasus blast

11th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Over 300 mainly young people on Saturday staged a protest outside the main government building in the Russian Caucasus city of Vladikavkaz where 17 were killed by a suicide bomb blast.

The demonstrators were protesting against the failure of the authorities to prevent the attack on the main market in the city, the capital of the Caucasus region of North Ossetia, an AFP correspondent reported.

They demanded a meeting with Taimuraz Mamsurov, the leader of North Ossetia which is the the only majority Christian region in the mainly Muslim Russian North Caucasus.

The protest also had nationalist overtones, as the Christian Ossetian protesters shouted slogans against the neighbouring Muslim region of Ingushetia, from where the suicide bomber is believed to have come.

"If the the police cannot do their task then they should resign," said one speaker at the meeting.

"If Ossetia is Russia's forward post in the Caucasus then let Russians protect Ossetians from neighbouring regions," shouted another.

The protest was not officially sanctioned by the authorities but a heavy police presence did nothing to prevent it taking place.

Mamsurov did not appear to speak to the protestors but North Ossetia deputy interior minister Soslan Sikoyev came out to talk to the participants.

The suicide bomber killed 17 and wounded at least 150 in Thursday's attack when he drove up to the entrance of the main market in Vladikavkaz in a white Volga car and detonated his charge.

Investigators believe the bomber drove from neighbouring Ingushetia and the Kommersant daily said Saturday that security forces failed to check the vehicle on the administrative border between Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

The attack risks reigniting tensions between the Ossetians and Ingush who have a history of uneasy relations.

They fought a brief but deadly conflict in the 1990s over the Prigorodny Raion, a district which became part of North Ossetia under the Soviet Union and has been disputed by the Ingush ever since.

The 1992 conflict claimed hundreds of lives and created tens of thousands of Ingush refugees.

North Ossetia was the site of one of Russia's most shocking tragedies in 2004 when more than 330 people died after armed Chechen rebels took more than 1,000 people hostage at a school in the town of Beslan.

© 2010 AFP

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