One killed in suicide blast in Russia's volatile Caucasus

17th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A young man blew himself up Tuesday near a checkpoint in Russia's Caucasus region of North Ossetia, killing himself and a policeman, in the region's first suicide attack this year, officials said.

The unidentified man walked up to the checkpoint close to the administrative border with neighbouring Ingushetia and detonated his charge, killing one policeman and wounding another two, Samir Sabatkoyev, spokesman for the regional interior ministry, told AFP from the scene.

"He detonated an unidentified explosive device," Sabatkoyev said. "He blew himself up," he added, noting it was "apparently" a suicide attack.

The two wounded policemen had "serious injuries," added Maria Gatsoyeva, a spokeswoman for regional investigators, speaking from the regional capital Vladikavkaz.

North Ossetia lies to the north of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, recognised by Russia as independent after the 2008 war with Georgia over its status.

The region is part of the country's most volatile North Caucasus region, scene of the simmering guerrilla war between Russian forces and separatist rebels, and deadly attacks in the republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan are a near-daily occurrence.

Analysts say poverty and corruption create a fertile ground for violence and help Islamist militants to recruit young people in the region.

The Kremlin calls the Caucasus unrest its biggest domestic problem and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last month announced an ambitious drive to bring prosperity there by enticing investors to the violence-torn region.

In January, the Kremlin appointed a new envoy responsible for the North Caucasus, businessman Alexander Khloponin, who devised a plan to turn around the regional economy.

But Medvedev last week lashed out at Khloponin, saying at a meeting on the economic situation in Dagestan that changes were slow to come and "nothing is moving."

Khloponin complained the situation in the Caucasus was so tough that Dagestan, for example, had nothing to offer as a collateral except "50,000 hectares of mine fields" if it wanted to receive loan guarantees to pursue business projects promised by Putin.

"There's nothing, you understand, there's nothing," he told Medvedev in comments released by the Kremlin.

Militants from the Caucasus were blamed for the bombings on the Moscow metro on March 29 carried out by two female suicide bombers that killed 40 people in a pair of coordinated attacks.

© 2010 AFP

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