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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

7 Killed in Vladikavkaz Explosion

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia -- A bomb tore through a Vladikavkaz market crowded with people buying flowers to place on relatives' graves Sunday, killing seven people and injuring 45, officials said.

Kazbek Dazntiyev, the region's interior minister, said the bomb contained an estimated 500 grams of TNT; its effects were magnified by being placed in a sturdy iron pipe. "It was a terrorist act," he said.

It was the latest in a series of market blasts in the city in which about 70 people have died over the past three years.

The market was crowded with people preparing for the Orthodox Palm Sunday ritual of purchasing flowers and pussy willows to place on relatives' graves.

Vladimir Kravchenko, head of the Northern Caucasus prosecutor's office, speculated that the blast might have been set off to destabilize the region during Sunday's presidential elections in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia.