Cops Killed in Russian Explosion

An explosion in the troubled southern Russian region of Dagestan (search) killed at least two police officers and wounded several more, officials said Saturday.

An Associated Press reporter saw two dead bodies in police uniforms lying inn the street in downtown Makhachkala, the capital of the Caspian Sea (search) region. Armed police, firefighters and paramedics rushed to the scene, and dazed residents milled about as workers swept glass from the street.

A police officer at the scene told the AP the blast occurred as a police patrol was walking by, and several people had been hospitalized.

The explosion occurred near a wedding in a southern Russian city, police said Saturday.

The blast occurred at about 4 p.m. in downtown Makhachkala near a banquet hall, said police department spokeswoman Marina Rusolova, but it was unclear whether the wedding was targeted.

The Interfax news agency, citing an official in the regional Interior Ministry (search) that it did not identify, said the blast occurred as a police minibus was passing by, and there were deaths.

Makhachkala is about 1,000 miles south of Moscow.

Near-daily attacks on police and authorities in the Caspian Sea region have raised fears that violence is spreading from neighboring Chechnya. Some of the violence is believed to be linked to criminal gangs.