11 troops killed by explosion in Russia

An explosion hit a truck carrying Russian troops in the capital of the southern Dagestan region Makhachkala on Friday, killing at least 11 troops and wounding 20 others, including 9 troops and one child, Russian military officials said.

Rashid Isayev, head of the criminal police for the province, said the explosion occurred when three trucks packed with Interior Ministry troops arrived at a bath house in Makhachkala.

The local branch of Russia's Interior Ministry later said the explosion was equivalent to about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of TNT, the explosive device was radio-controlled, reports ITAR-TASS.

Kazanfar Kurbanov, head of the Emergency Medical Center in Makhachkala, said 23 people, including civilians, were hospitalized with wounds.

Bloodstained bodies lay on the street on the outskirts of Makhachkala, and ambulances quickly whisked away those wounded. The explosion riddled the truck with shrapnel and shattered windows in nearby houses.

Since the year's start, a series of explosions has killed some 30 police and security officers and wounded scores of others. Dagestan has been shaken by violence, including attacks that have killed about 30 police and security officers this year alone. The motives behind the attacks are unclear. Some blame the killings on Islamic militants working in coordination with Chechen rebels, others pin it on people seeking vengeance for police brutality. Still others say the violence could be rooted in rivalry between Dagestan's more than 100 ethnic groups.

Friday's attack closely resembled a January 2001 bombing that killed seven Interior Ministry troops at the same site.

In Chechnya on Friday, two Russian servicemen were wounded when they stepped on mines planted by the rebels, the Interfax news agency reported, quoting local police.

Photo: NTV

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