MOSCOW (Reuters) - One person was killed and at least 21 injured on Saturday when a bomb exploded in Nalchik, the capital of Russia’s Kabardino-Balkaria republic, in a sign that unrest is spreading in the troubled North Caucasus region.
The bomb exploded during horse races in Nalchik as the city celebrated May Day, a spokeswoman for the region’s interior ministry told Reuters.
The bomb was equipped with a timer and filled with pieces of metal designed to injure as many people as possible, said spokeswoman Marina Kyasova. “At least 21 people were injured but the exact number is still being defined,” she added.
The leaders of the republic, including President Arsen Kanokov, were not at the race meeting. Russian agencies said the person who died was a World War Two veteran born in 1906.
Kabardino-Balkaria, which has many ski resorts and is a favorite for Russian lovers of extreme sports, is near the turbulent trio of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, but its level of violence has been much lower than in those three.
The Kremlin is struggling to contain a bubbling Islamist insurgency in Russia’s North Caucasus region which aims to create a Muslim, sharia-based state separate from Russia.
Frequent attacks targeting law enforcement officers define much of the violence in the region, a decade after two wars between government forces and Chechen separatists.
“(The blast) could be revenge by extremists for the destruction of the leaders of bandit groups and could be aimed at destabilizing the situation in the republic during May holidays,” ITAR-TASS quoted regional leader Kanokov as saying.
Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by David Stamp