Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:46am EDT
GROZNY, Russia (Reuters) – A suicide bomber blew herself up beside a police car in the capital of Russia’s southern region of Chechnya on Wednesday, wounding six people.
Russia has fought two wars against Chechen separatists since the early 1990s. A series of attacks by Islamist militants on security forces and local leaders over recent months has shattered several years of relative calm and raised questions about Kremlin control of the north Caucasus region.
Russian news agencies carried conflicting reports on the number of people who suffered in the blast, but local officials said there were no fatalities.
“I officially declare there were no victims in the explosion,” Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov said at the scene of the blast. “Two Chechen policemen and four civilians were wounded.”
An eyewitness told Reuters a young woman had approached the police car and blew herself up. Others said there had been three policemen in the car at the moment of the explosion.
Interfax news agency said the woman’s head had been found.
A mangled, burned-out carcass was all that remained of the police car at an intersection in Grozny’s usually bustling center, a Reuters reporter said.
A passenger minibus with shattered windows was seen nearby.
Leaders from across the North Caucasus warned Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last month that they were struggling to contain an Islamic insurgency they said had permeated all spheres of society.