CAR BOMB KILLS AT LEAST 4 IN RUSSIA’S DAGESTAN

Moscow: A car bomb ripped through a cafe in Russia’s Dagestan region on Friday killing at least four, investigators said, in the latest act of violence in a region where Moscow is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency.

The blast happened at 7:50 pm local time (1650 GMT) in the town of Khasavyurt, some 85 km (50 miles) northwest of Dagestan’s seafront capital Makhachkala, near the border with Chechnya, said the federal investigative committee in Moscow.

“The explosion killed two cafe workers and two cafe visitors. Five others are seriously injured,” the committee’s spokesman said.

A decade after federal forces drove separatists from power in Chechnya in the second of two wars, the mainly Muslim North Caucasus is plagued by violence, where youths angry about poverty and fuelled by jihad (holy war) stage near daily attacks.

According to unofficial Islamist site kavkazcenter.com, two of the dead on Friday were prostitutes. Though rare, attacks on alcohol-sellers and brothels happen in the North Caucasus, where many rebels want to carve out a separate state from Russia governed by Islamic Sharia law.

President Dmitry Medvedev has labelled the North Caucasus the country’s biggest domestic problem.

Dagestan, which has a population of 2.5 million, has overtaken Chechnya as the epicentre of violence and analysts say the region’s proximity to Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, poses a major headache for the Kremlin.

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