Car Bomb Kills Woman in Russian Caucasus

A car bomb exploded Tuesday night in a parking lot in Vladikavkaz, a southern Russian city near the war-ravaged Chechen Republic, killing at least one person and wounding several.

Heavy smoke filled the area as firefighters battled flames. The blast shattered glass in buildings near the lot, which was adjacent to a bank and about 200 yards from the city's central marketplace.

Federal Security Service (search) spokesman in Moscow said a woman pedestrian was killed and several soldiers who were passing by in a truck were hurt.

The deputy head of the provincial security council, Alexander Burayev, said there was no immediate indication of whether the blast was related to the conflict in Chechnya.

Vladikavkaz is the capital of the province of North Ossetia (search), to the west of Chechnya (search), where separatist rebels and Russian forces have been fighting since 1999.

Russian officials have blamed previous bombings in the region on Chechen rebels.

A March 1999 bombing in the city's central market killed 55 people and wounded 168. Four men were convicted and given sentences up to life in prison for the bombing.

The group was also implicated in a May 1999 bombing at a military outpost that killed four and injured 17, a June 1999 blast in Vladikavkaz that injured 17 and the abduction of three Russian soldiers.