. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechen Presidential Vote in October

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia -- Pro-Moscow Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov said Thursday that Chechnya will hold presidential elections in October and elect a parliament by the end of the year.

His comments came as a police bus hit a remote-controlled land mine in North Ossetia, which neighbors Chechnya, killing three officers and wounding at least six others.

Kadyrov said President Vladimir Putin will issue a decree setting the exact date of the vote, which will be followed within three months by the parliamentary elections, Itar-Tass reported.

He said he expects "three or four main candidates" to compete for the presidency. Kadyrov has said he intends to run.

Thursday's explosion occurred in the Prigorodny district, said Oleg Vershinin, spokesman for the Federal Security Service in Vladikavkaz.

Rossia television showed footage of a red bus, its front end mangled and all the windows shattered. It stood in a grassy field just off an unpaved road.

The mine had been placed not far from a checkpoint manned by Interior Ministry troops, Vershinin said.

Itar-Tass, citing unnamed officials in the Federal Security Service, said the mine exploded with the force of about a kilogram of TNT. The news agency reported that nine people were injured.

Prigorodny has been a flash point of tensions between the Ossetian and Ingush ethnic groups. War broke out between them in 1992, killing hundreds and leading to the expulsion of some 75,000 ethnic Ingush from the region. Efforts to allow the return of Ingush refugees have met with sometimes violent resistance.

Deputy Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky told Itar-Tass that "most likely there is no connection with events in Chechnya." He cautioned, however, that an investigation was still under way.

Immediately after the explosion, Fridinsky branded it a terrorist attack, Interfax reported.

Meanwhile, Fridinsky said Thursday he will soon send additional materials to London to support Russia's request for the extradition of Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev, Interfax reported.