MAKHACHKALA, Russia — A suicide car bomber killed three soldiers and wounded 32 others in an attack on a military base in Russia’s violence-plagued republic of Dagestan yesterday, officials said.
The attack took place about 1 a.m. at the base in the city of Buinaksk, said Vyacheslav Gasanov, a spokesman for the republic’s Interior Ministry.
The driver of the small, explosives-laden Zhiguli automobile smashed through a gate of the base and headed for an area where soldiers were quartered in tents, Gasanov said.
But soldiers opened fire on him before he reached the center of the base. Gasanov said the driver rammed the car into a truck, where it exploded. After the blast, a roadside bomb hit a car taking investigators to the scene, but there were no injuries reported in that explosion.
Dagestan’s president, Magomedsalam Magomedov, visited the scene of the attack, then visited the wounded soldiers in the hospitals where they are being treated.
“Today’s terrorist attack indicates that militants in the republic still have the power to conduct such treacherous attacks,’’ Magomedov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
Despite several successful operations against the militants in the region, the country’s security services have to step up their efforts to fully stamp out the militants, he said.
Dagestan is gripped by near-daily violence between police and soldiers and insurgents believed to be inspired by separatists in neighboring Chechnya.
The attack came almost exactly 11 years after a car bomb outside an apartment building in Buinaksk housing the families of military officers killed 64 people.
The Sept. 4, 1999, attack was the first of four apartment bombings in Russia over a two-week period that killed more than 290 people. Russian officials cited those attacks as justification for launching the second war against Chechen rebels.
All the 1999 bombings were blamed on Chechen insurgents, who had recently launched an incursion into Dagestan to try to establish an Islamic state. But suspicions persist that the bombings were orchestrated by Russian officials to justify the beginning of that war.
There was no claim of responsibility for yesterday’s bombings.