MOSCOW (Reuters) - A bomb exploded outside a mosque in Russia’s North Caucasus on Friday, killing two suspected suicide bombers in a region where Moscow is battling an Islamist insurgency.
Russian security forces are trying to quell the unrest in the mostly Muslim region only hundreds of kilometers away from President Vladimir Putin’s planned venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The blast occurred at 3.00 a.m. local time at the entrance to a cemetery outside a mosque in the village of Dygulubgey in the Kabardino-Balkaria region, local investigators said in a statement.
Attacks in Kabardino-Balkaria are less common than in the nearby province of Dagestan, but Dygulubgey has been the scene of several insurgent attacks and shootouts with police in recent months.
“At the site of the explosion, the fragments of the bodies of two men have been found,” Interfax quoted a regional law enforcement source as saying on the condition of anonymity.
“Nearby was also found a Kalashnikov machinegun which it has been ascertained was among the materials stolen during an attack on traffic police,” the source said.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said the blast was probably the result of a suicide bombing.
The insurgency, rooted in two separatist wars fought by rebels in Chechnya following the Soviet collapse, aims to establish an Islamic state in the predominantly Muslim region.
Its leader, Chechen-born rebel Doku Umarov, has promised to stop the Olympics from taking place.
A mix of militant Islam, clan rivalries and anger among youth at corruption and heavy-handed police tactics has fuelled the insurgency.
A policeman in Dagestan who had been wounded in a shootout with militants died in hospital on Friday, state-run agency RIA reported.
Reporting by Thomas Grove, Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel and Alistair Lyon