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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Death Toll Rises in Ingush Suicide Blast

The death toll in the suicide bombing of an Ingush police station grew to 21 on Tuesday and could reach 30 as hopes dwindle for finding nine missing police officers alive.

Thirty-five people remained hospitalized in Ingushetia’s main hospital, and nine who suffered more serious injuries were flown to Moscow for treatment, officials said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack Monday in which a

GAZelle van packed with explosives rammed into the gates of the police station in Nazran, Ingushetia’s main city.

The nine missing officers are believed to have been buried in the rubble of the police station, which was destroyed in the explosion.

Investigators have identified a previous owner of the GAZelle and are looking for him, Interfax reported, citing an Ingush law enforcement source.

“We already know the GAZelle owner who sold it to people who might have been connected to the rebels who stuffed it with explosives for the Nazran attack,” the source said, without elaborating.

On Monday, the Ingush Interior Ministry said it had been tipped off about preparations for an attack with the use of a GAZelle. President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed Ingush Interior Minister Ruslan Meiriyev later in the day, saying the police could have averted the tragedy.

Medvedev told Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev on Tuesday that he wanted answers. “What was it, sloppiness, treason or an accumulation of crimes that couldn’t be stopped?” he said at a government meeting in Sochi.

Nurgaliyev flew to Nazran on Tuesday and named Meiriyev’s first deputy, Viktor Zhirnov, as the acting Ingush interior minister.

The European Union, in a statement circulated late Monday, condemned the Nazran attack and offered its condolences to the families of those killed.

Meanwhile, a police officer was killed and three were badly wounded when a roadside bomb detonated near their patrol car in the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, late Monday, Interfax reported. On Tuesday, an explosion in the Dagestani town of Kizilyurt injured two police officers and two other people.