MOSCOW — A suicide bomber on Sunday attacked the funeral of a police officer shot to death by unknown gunmen the previous day in the volatile North Caucasus region of Russia, killing seven and injuring 10 others in the crowd of mourners, officials said.
The explosion, on the outskirts of the town of Malgobek in the republic of Ingushetia, was one of a string of violent incidents to rock the smoldering North Caucasus region more than a decade after Russian leader Vladimir Putin, in his first stint as president, engaged in all-out warfare against rebels in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.
In Chechnya on Saturday, four police officers were shot dead in an ambush on a mountain road, the radio station Echo of Moscow reported. Also on Saturday, in the town of Khasavyurt in the neighboring republic of Dagestan, unknown attackers opened fire on pedestrians near a Shiite mosque, injuring eight people. On Sunday morning the police found a powerful explosive device inside the mosque, the Interfax news agency reported.
This month, two suicide bombings killed three and injured three policemen in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.
The attack Sunday in Ingushetia is an alarming sign that violence is once again spilling over to a republic that was recently considerably more stable than Chechnya and Dagestan, said Alexander Cherkasov, a board member of Memorial, a human rights group in Moscow.
The suicide bombing at the funeral of police officer Ilez Korigov occurred on the first day of an Islamic holiday as hundreds of thousands of Muslims went to mosques all over Russia.
Vakha Chapanov, director of the Ingush news agency Maximum, said the bomb went off as the casket was being carried to a yard where more than 100 mourners, many of them colleagues of the deceased officer, were waiting to form a funeral procession.
Chapanov said his cousin, Malgobek police officer Adam Chapanov, 44, a father of four, was among the dead.
"Those who planned it knew in advance that most of his colleagues would come to his funeral," Khadzhi-Murat Karkhoyev, a spokesman for Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, said by phone from Magas, the republic's capital, quoting from a statement issued by Yevkurov.
The United States strongly condemned the attacks. "It is particularly regrettable these attacks occurred on the eve of Eid al-Fitr celebration commemorating the end of Ramadan," a tweet by the American Embassy said.
North Caucasus is consumed by an undeclared civil war, said Russian lawmaker Gennady Gudkov.
"The rampant corruption, the lawless cruelty of the law enforcement, the total lack of unbiased justice, the acute shortage of jobs and lack of life prospects — all this creates an ideal potion to freed fundamentalist extremism," Gudkov said in a phone interview. "This wild, barbarian attack speaks of an extreme degree of bitterness and fury of those who stand behind it."
"I condemn those who committed this act, but I am convinced they have been driven to it by the callousness of the authorities who constantly struggle with the consequences of this war rather than with its reasons," Gudkov said.