Moscow, 2 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Rescue workers are searching for survivors this morning at a Russian military hospital in the southern republic of North Ossetia following an explosion believed to have been caused by a truck bombing. There are conflicting reports on the number of people killed, ranging from at least 22 to at least 35. Another 150 were reported injured. The republic's emergency situations minister, Boris Dzgoev, called the incident a "terrorist act."
No one has claimed responsibility.
The ITAR-TASS news agency reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov cut short his summer vacation and left for Mozdok at the request of President Vladimir Putin. The report said during his one-day trip, Ivanov wants to find out what happened as well as to make sure additional security measures are taken by Russian forces.
The blast destroyed the hospital in the city of Mozdok, some 10 kilometers from the breakaway republic of Chechnya. Eyewitnesses said the explosion was caused by a man who drove a vehicle packed with explosives into the hospital complex.
Mozdok is the main headquarters of Russian armed forces fighting separatists in Chechnya and has been targeted by attackers before.
The White House condemned the attack, saying, "No cause whatsoever can justify terrorism."