MAKHACHKALA, Russia – At least four people are dead and dozens more are injured after two car bombs exploded Monday in Dagestan, in Russia’s North Caucasus region, where armed militias are leading an Islamist insurgency.
Both blasts were near a court building and appeared to have been detonated by remote control, a Russian state agency told Reuters.
Police cordoned off the area around the bombings, but the mangled wreckage of a vehicle and blackened chunks of metal could be seen near the building.
The initial bomb exploded in a parked car and the second went off in a trash bin about 15 minutes later after police had arrived, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov. He said the second, more powerful blast, caused all of the casualties and many of those killed and wounded were police.
In the past, insurgents have set off two bombs: the first draws police and emergency workers, so the second targets even more casualties.
Health officials in Dagestan said about 45 people were taken to various hospitals for treatment. The federal Health Ministry in Moscow later said 35 people were hospitalized.
Dagestan is a breeding ground for Muslim extremists and the center of an insurgency rooted in two post-Soviet wars against separatist rebels in nearby Chechnya. The Russian province has also been in the news because one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing once lived there.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev -- the Boston Marathon bombing suspect who died after a police shootout -- lived in Dagestan with his family about ten years ago and had visited the province last year. U.S. authorities have been investigating the visit to see if Tsarnaev had ties with insurgents.
Dagestan is an ethnically mixed, mostly Muslim region between the Caspian Sea and Chechnya, It has become increasingly violent as insurgents aim to carve out an Islamic state in southern Russia.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.