Suicide Bomber Fails In Nazran Attack Bid

A suicide bomber on Tuesday attacked the motorcade of Ingush Interior Minister Musa Medov, whom the local opposition has accused of the murder of its leader in August.

The male bomber attempted to ram a Lada hatchback packed with explosives into Medov's convoy in downtown Nazran at 8:20 a.m., but his car exploded before it collided with the minister's armored Mercedes sedan, authorities said.

Medov and his bodyguards were unharmed, while five bystanders were wounded and several houses in the vicinity of the blast were damaged, Ingush prosecutors said, Gazeta.ru reported.

The bomber was killed in the blast, which security experts said was the second suicide bombing in five weeks after a four-year period in which insurgents in the North Caucasus seemed to have abandoned the tactic.

Prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the attempted murder of a law enforcement official and illegal weapons trafficking. Ingush chief prosecutor Yury Turygin said investigators managed to take fingerprints from the bomber and were tracking the origin of the car he used, RIA-Novosti reported.

Medov, whom the Ingush opposition often describes as the mastermind behind a brutal crackdown on political and religious dissent, said the attack was perpetrated by "forces that do everything possible to destabilize the situation in Ingushetia and in the whole region."

His vague accusation recalled the language of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov, who recently accused the United States of trying to stir up trouble in the restive republic. Ingushetia is one of the most impoverished and volatile republics in the North Caucasus, where police violence against residents and attacks on the local officials are common.

The Ingush opposition has repeatedly called in vain for Zyazikov's ouster, accusing him of murder, corruption and mismanagement. It has accused Zyazikov and Medov of ordering the killing of opposition leader Magomed Yevloyev, whose relatives have declared a blood feud against the two officials.

Zyazikov's cousin, Bekhan Zyazikov, was killed by unidentified assailants on Sept. 10, but Yevloyev's widow, Zalina, publicly stated that the murder was not part of the blood feud.

The last suicide bombing in the North Caucasus before Tuesday's attack was on Aug. 29, when two men drove a truck loaded with explosives through the fence of an Interior Ministry base in Chechnya, blowing themselves up while killing one officer and wounding 11.

Maxim Agarkov, a Caucasus analyst with the SK-Strategia think tank, said using suicide bombers is not part of the Caucasus tradition of blood revenge.

"This was an ostensibly theatrical attack aimed at demonstrating the weakness of Zyazikov rather than to kill Medov," Agarkov said.

Russia's recent war with Georgia may have revived global Islamist networks' interest in the Caucasus, said Andrei Soldatov, a security and terrorism analyst and founder of the Agentura think tank. The latest suicide bombings in Chechnya and Ingushetia indicate that these terrorist networks may have allocated resources to the largely Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus, Soldatov said.