February 15, 2016 / 9:19 AM / 2 years ago

Islamic State says behind Dagestan bomb blast that killed two policemen

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JEMIKENT, Russia (Reuters) - Islamic State said its suicide bomber had blown up a car in Russia's volatile Dagestan that killed two policemen on Monday, the deadliest attack in the southern republic since 2013.

RIA news agency quoted a Dagestani security source as saying earlier that the suicide bomber had come from "the southern terrorist group", but gave no further detail.

"...[O]ne of the Caliphate’s soldiers advanced with a car bomb towards a barrier set up by the apostate Dagestani police ... and blew it up in the midst of their gathering leading to the death or injury of all the elements stationed at the barrier thanks be to God," the Caucasus "province" of Islamic State said in a statement carried by Twitter accounts loyal to IS.

Photographs sent by a local cameraman showed several burnt-out cars and a separate engine - believed to be what was left of the suicide bomber's car - near the village of Jemikent in southeastern Dagestan. A body covered with white cloth was lying near one of the cars.

Dagestan borders Chechnya, where Moscow fought two wars against Islamist separatists before regaining control of the region. A patchwork of ethnicities and languages, it has become a hub of militant Islam in the North Caucasus, and some militant groups have sworn allegiance to Islamic State.

Dagestan, where Kremlin critics say widespread poverty and corruption help feed religious extremism, last saw similar attacks on police by suicide bombers in 2013.

Monday's attack, which came about 0900 (0600 GMT), was equivalent to 30 kg of TNT, the Interfax news agency cited police experts as saying. The number of injured reached 17, Russian news agencies said, citing health ministry officials.

Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Mostafa Hashem in Cairo; Editing by Katharine Houreld, Larry King

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