Suicide bomber blows up minibus in south Russia

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MAKHACHKALA, Russia, Oct 23 (Reuters) A suspected suicide bomber blew herself up in a minibus taxi and wounded five passengers today in the southern province of Dagestan, neighbouring restive Chechnya, police said.

The minibus exploded at around 0700 GMT around 100 metres (yards) from a police post. It was halfway from the town of Khasavyurt, west of the regional capital Makhachkala.

''Apparently a young woman wrapped in a suicide-bomber's belt was responsible for the blast,'' the officer said.

He said the suspected bomber was the only casualty. Three of the five wounded people were rushed to hospital with severe injuries.

Russia has put down large-scale rebel resistance in Chechnya, the scene of two bloody separatist wars since 1994. But violence, blamed by Russian officials on radical Islamic groups, has poured out into neighbouring provinces.

Reports of attacks on officials and the Russian military, as well as operations by security forces against ''terrorists'' come almost weekly from Dagestan, east of Chechnya, and Ingushetia, Chechnya's western neighbour.

REUTERS SZ AS1508

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