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Ingushetian Minister Survives Suicide Bomb Attack

NAZRAN, Russia (Reuters) -- A suicide car bomber blew himself up in Russia's southern republic of Ingushetia in an apparent attempt to kill the region's interior minister, police have said.

Three bystanders and a motorist were wounded in the region's main city of Nazran when the bomber blew up his car as Interior Minister Mussa Medov and his bodyguards pulled alongside in their armored Mercedes, a police source said.

Medov and his bodyguards were not hurt, although their vehicle was severely damaged and a 2-meter-wide crater was left in the road surface, said a Reuters reporter who visited the scene of the explosion.

"It's difficult right now to determine the comparative force of the explosion, but I'm certain it was no less than 2 kilograms of explosive material," an investigator at the blast site said.

Ingushetia is a poor, chiefly Muslim republic in the turbulent North Caucasus region where Moscow is struggling to contain an insurgency by Islamist militants who regularly kill officials in ambushes and bomb attacks.

Last month, the owner of an opposition Internet news site was shot dead while in police custody, provoking street protests against Medov and Ingushetia's President Murat Zyazikov.

Local officials said the journalist's death was accidental. Zyazikov accused outside forces of stoking unrest in his region as part of a campaign to weaken Russia.