Homicide Bombers Kill Five in Muslim-Dominated Chechnya

Homicide bombers on bicycles detonated explosives in Chechnya on Friday, killing at least four police officers and a civilian in coordinated attacks in the capital, officials said.

The homicide bombers approached police officers in two central locations in Grozny and blew themselves up, killing two officers in each attack, said Chechnya's Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov in televised remarks.

Russian emergency services spokesman Alexei Zemskov said three other people were wounded. An Associated Press reporter saw body parts scattered at the sites of both attacks, which come at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

While large-scale battles ended years ago in predominantly Muslim Chechnya, which has been ravaged by two separatist wars since 1994, Islamic militants have continued daily hit-and-run raids against police and other authorities, and the violence has increasingly spilled into neighboring provinces.

Friday's violence followed Monday's homicide bombing of a police station in neighboring Ingushetia that killed 25 people and injured more than 160 in the deadliest attack in the volatile North Caucasus region in years.

A Chechen rebel group calling itself the Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs' Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack in Nazran in a statement posted Friday on a Web site sympathetic to Chechen rebels. The claim could not be independently confirmed, but officials also said the attack had been mounted by militants seeking to avenge recent security raids.

The bombing in Ingushetia and the new attacks in Chechnya unraveled Kremlin claims that it has managed to bring calm and prosperity to the impoverished region's patchwork of ethnic groups, clans and religions.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev acknowledged earlier this week that militants continued to mount a strong challenge to stability in the North Caucasus region.

Russian news reports initially said there were several other explosions in Grozny Friday, but officials said there were only two.

It is the first reported case of suicide bombers using bicycles, although such attacks have happened in Afghanistan.