South Ossetia explosion kills seven (Lead)

October 3rd, 2008 - 11:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Oct 3 (DPA) At least seven people were killed and three injured Friday when a bomb planted in a car went off near a Russian army installation in Tskhinvali, the capital of Georgia’s breakaway republic of South Ossetia, Russian news reports said.The powerful blast damaged the Russian infantry staff building and blew out windows in surrounding structures up to a half-kilometre distant, the Interfax news agency citing South Ossetian government sources said.

It was not clear from early reports the precise number of Russian service personnel, and Ossetian civilians killed or injured in the blast.

Emergency medical crews and fire trucks were responding to the scene. The Russian army base adjacent to the blast is home to a battalion of “peacekeeper” infantry, an elite Russian combat unit.

The Lenta.Ru news website, citing Mikhael Mindzaev, a South Ossetia police spokesman, said the seventh victim died in hospital as a result his injuries.

Three persons were injured and transported to hospital, the Novosti.Ru news agency reported.

The ITAR-TASS news agency reported the bombing seemingly had been aimed at Anatoliy Margiev, a regional administrator appointed by Russian forces. Margiev’s vehicle had just passed the bomb when it went off, said Irina Gagloeva, a South Ossetian spokeswoman.

The bomb was likely detonated remotely by radio command, according to Russian language news reports citing Ossetian police. The explosion was caused by a bomb concealed in an UAZ four-wheeler, eyewitnesses said.

Eduard Koikoty, South Ossetia’s leader, was quick to accuse Georgian special forces of organising the attack. The count of injured was expected to rise and it includes civilians and Russian military personnel, he said.

The blast took place exactly one week before Russian troops were scheduled to evacuate positions within South Ossetia and Georgia proper. Koikoty has been outspoken in previous weeks in calls for Russian troops to remain in South Ossetia, despite a ceasefire agreement obliging most of them to leave by Oct 10.

South Ossetian law enforcers within minutes of the explosion were claiming remains of the car bomb showed the vehicle had been used by Georgian nationals to transport weapons illegally.

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