A suicide bomber today killed at least three soldiers and wounded dozens more at a military base in southern Daghestan.
The attack took place shortly after midnight, when the attacker drove a car carrying the equivalent of 35 to 55 kilograms of TNT through the gate surrounding a military training camp near the town of Buinaksk, about 50 kilometers west of the republic's capital, Makhachkala.
"Today at 0030, a suicide bomber traveling from the village of Takaloi, two kilometers northwest of Buinaksk, managed to get through the security zone of the military field camp of the 136th Motorized Brigade at the Dalny training ground," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Aleksei Kuznetsov said in describing the attack.
Kuznetsov said three servicemen were killed in the blast. Other reports put the death toll at five. At least 30 people were injured, some severely.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has dispatched Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to Daghestan to help coordinate relief efforts for the wounded soldiers.
More than a dozen servicemen wounded in the blast were reported to have been airlifted to a military hospital in Rostov-na-Donu and several more may be flown to Moscow for treatment for burns and shrapnel wounds.
Yulia Taberio, a Daghestani journalist, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that guards at the base managed to block the attacker's path with a truck, preventing him from approaching hundreds of soldiers sleeping in tents just meters away.
"Soldiers opened fire on him and blocked his path," Taberio says. "The car bomber slammed into the military vehicle and exploded. In this way, they managed to prevent there from being many more casualties."
A roadside bomb later exploded nearby as police gathered to investigate the original suicide attack. No one was injured in the second explosion.
Taberio said the Dalny training ground may have been targeted because it was poorly fortified and known to be vulnerable to attack.
In response, the Russian Defense Ministry has imposed increased security measures at military sites throughout its Southern Military District, which encompasses all of the North Caucasus as well as the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian flotilla.
The attack comes just one day after a car bomb attack
targeted Daghestan's minister of national policy, foreign relations, and information. The minister, Bekmurza Bekmurzayev, survived the attack but his driver was killed.
Bombings and shootings have become common in Daghestan, which has arguably become the most violent republic in the restive North Caucasus region.
The rise in violence is seen as the result of the republic's endemic poverty, clan feuds, growing resentment of Russian security forces, and the spread of militant Islam in the wake of Russia's two brutal wars in Chechnya.
Daghestan's president, Magomedsalam Magomedov, said today the military base bombing has shown that militants in the region still have the power to launch attacks.
Magomedov said law-enforcement agencies must "augment efforts to eliminate militant bands entirely."
North Caucasus analyst Magomed Musayev tells RFE/RL's Russian Service that Buinaksk is increasingly the site of violent attacks like today's suicide bombing. Musayev calls Buinaksk both the "most interesting" and "most criminal" city in Daghestan.
"The Buinaksk underworld is a natural Sicily," he says. "They're cohesive, able to defend themselves. As far as I know, the criminal element is highly organized there, according to a Wahhabist structure. They are very strong and united.
"At the same time, people there are very nice, very friendly. Of course, there's no money invested in Buinaksk the way it is in Makhachkala. You don't see the same kinds of buildings, shops, and businesses there. It's standing on the margins."written by Daisy Sindear, with agency reports