MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A suicide bomber has killed four policemen and injured one in Russia's Chechnya region, the Interior Ministry said, and Interfax news agency reported two passersby also died.
The ministry said it was unaware of the two civilian deaths reported by the news agency.
"A suicide bomber blew himself up with explosives near a group of policemen in the Mesker-Yurt village in Chechnya today," a spokesman for the ministry said, referring to a town around 20 kilometers from the regional capital Grozny. "Four people died, another was seriously wounded. A group of investigators are working at the site of the blast."
The number of attacks on officials and security forces has soared in Chechnya in recent months. Late last week two suicide bombers on bicycles killed four policemen in Grozny.
State television showed camouflage-clad men huddling around stray articles of clothing in a pool of blood under bright sunshine where the attack had taken place.
Unofficial Islamist rebel website kavkazcenter.com praised the blast, calling the bomber a "shakhid," or "martyr."
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flew into Chechnya on August 24 to show support for its Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused by rights groups of abuses in the mainly Muslim region which is racked by violence.