22 Jun 2009

Russian regional leader wounded in attack

9:23 pm on 22 June 2009

The president of the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia has been wounded in an assassination attempt.

Yunus-Bek Yevkurov has been taken to hospital and his condition is unclear. One bodyguard was killed and several others are reported to be wounded in the attack on Monday.

An explosion hit their convoy near the city of Nazran, officials say. No group has said it carried out the attack.

Ingushetia, which neighbours Chechnya, has seen an increase in violence in recent years.

Federal investigators said a car that was parked on the side of the road detonated just as Mr Yevkurov's car passed, AP news agency reported.

The brother of the president was among at least three bodyguards injured in the attack, the spokesman told Itar-tass news agency.

Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev has called the attack "an act of terror".

The attack is the third to hit the republic in as many weeks.

On June 10, gunmen killed Ingushetia's deputy chief supreme court justice in Nazran as she dropped her children at a kindergarten.

Three days later, the region's former vice prime minister was shot dead outside his home in Nazran.

Hundreds of refugees from the wars in Chechnya have sought refuge in Ingushetia, a mainly Muslim republic, which is itself one of Russia's poorest regions.

The North Caucasus region, which also includes Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia, is regarded as a major security challenge for the Kremlin.