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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dagestan Says Tragedy Averted

Dagestani police said they averted a major terrorist attack Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up in his car, killing one and injuring 13, during a police check on the outskirts of Makhachkala.

The suicide bomber was stopped by a traffic police officer at a checkpoint outside Makhachkala, Dagestan’s capital, at about 4:20 a.m. and detonated explosives in his car, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The unidentified man had driven his VAZ-2109 car from the town of Buinaksk, 40 kilometers northwest of Makhachkala, the statement said.

The powerful blast injured 14 people, including several police officers, and one person later died in the hospital, investigators said. The dead man was identified as Sharapudin Amirov, a 33-year-old customs officer who lived in Makhachkala.

“The explosion left a crater 3.5 meters across and 1.5 meters deep,” a Dagestan-based Federal Security Service spokesman told Interfax.

The explosive had the force of 30 to 40 kilograms of dynamite, he said.

Dagestan Interior Minister Ali Magomedov praised the police officers at the checkpoint. “They have prevented a big terrorist attack inside Makhachkala,” he told reporters at the site of the blast.

Violence in the North Caucasus has intensified in recent months, but suicide bombings, frequent in neighboring Chechnya and Ingushetia, are rare in Dagestan.

At least 25 people were killed in a suicide bombing at an Ingush police station on Aug. 17. In the days after the attack, a series of suicide bombings rattled Chechnya, including two involving bombers on bicycles who killed five people.

“In Dagestan, terrorists usually attack checkpoints to seize weapons, but not with suicide bombings,” said Andrei Soldatov, who tracks the security services at Agentura.ru. “It looks like the bombing wasn’t planned for the checkpoint.”

In October 2007, a woman died in Dagestan when a hand grenade she was carrying detonated. The investigators said the explosion was not a premeditated suicide attack.