Explosion Destroys Building in Nazran; Cause Uncertain

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 10 Issue: 2

An explosion on January 13 at a building in Nazran that housed the offices of Ingushetia’s bailiffs’ service killed eight people and injured 23. The Associated Press quoted Marat Prokopenkov of the Emergency Situations Ministry’s branch in southern Russia as saying that an initial investigation suggested a gas leak was to blame, but other possible causes including terrorism were also being considered. A spokeswoman for the regional branch of the federal Investigative Committee, Svetlana Gorbakova, said authorities suspected a gas blast.

Agence France-Presse reported that Ingushetia’s President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov called for three days of national mourning starting January 14 and ordered state television and cultural bodies to cancel their entertainment programs during this period. A Kremlin statement said that President Dmitry Medvedev also asked Yevkurov to pass on his condolences to the victims and their families and ensure the necessary assistance is provided to them.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on January 14 that the federal Emergency Situations Ministry was sending an Il-78 transport plane to Ingushetia to pick up six people wounded in the explosion and fly them to Moscow for treatment.

An unidentified gunman shot a police squadron commander dead with a sniper rifle in Nazran late on January 11. Citing Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, the Associated Press reported that another police officer was wounded on January 11 when a police station was riddled with bullets fired from a passing car near the village of Yandare.

Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry reported that four suspected militants were killed in a clash with security forces on January 11. The Associated Press quoted ministry officials as saying that the fighters were hiding in a house in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya and that police were trying to start talks when the militants opened fire. One civilian and three policemen were wounded in the fighting. According to Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, the gunmen were ethnic Chechens and were wanted on criminal charges in Ingushetia and Chechnya.

A bomb went off near a hospital in Ordzhonikidzevskaya late on January 9. Itar-Tass reported that a woman was wounded in the blast and hospitalized.