NAZRAN, RUSSIA — The volatile North Caucasus experienced one of its worst eruptions of violence in months with at least nine people killed in attacks across the region, officials said Friday.
The Kremlin is struggling to contain a mix of Islamist insurgents, separatists and organized crime groups, though a separatist rebellion in one of the region's hotspots, Chechnya, has largely been quelled.
The latest bloodshed included a blast in the Ingushetia region that killed four people and a rebel attack in Chechnya that killed at least three.
Former Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed when he took office eight years ago to end violence in the North Caucasus. Though he succeeded in restoring control over most of Chechnya, when he handed the presidency to Dmitry Medvedev last month the North Caucasus remained unstable.
In Nazran, the biggest city in Ingushetia, four people were killed in an explosion that destroyed a building, emergency services said. Police said they suspected an accidental gas explosion.
But a local Interior Ministry source told the Reuters news agency that the explosion was deliberate. The owner of a liquor store in the building had received threats from Islamist insurgents who demanded he stop selling alcohol, the source said.
In Chechnya, rebels raided the village of Benoi-Vedeno, killing three people and setting several houses on fire, Russian news agencies said.
In Dagestan, a remote-controlled bomb killed a jogger in a park in the capital, Makhachkala, police said.
Security forces killed an insurgent in Bayram Aul, a settlement north of Makhachkala, the Interfax news agency quoted a source in the region's Interior Ministry as saying.