Twin blasts rocked Russia's North Caucasus region of Dagestan just two days after 39 people were killed in two subway explosions in Moscow, the region's Interior Ministry said.
The death toll from the explosions in the town of Kizlyar near Chechnya on Wednesday morning currently stands at 12, including 2 terrorists. 29 people were injured.
The first blast occurred at 08:45 Moscow time (04:45 GMT), and the other came 20 minutes later. The explosions occurred some 300 meters from the buildings of the Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service and a school.
"An explosive device was detonated when a car was leaving the city Interior Ministry department. According to preliminary information, two Interior Ministry employees were in the car," investigators said in a statement.
The two police officers were killed by the explosion, which injured several bystanders.
"Around 20 minutes later a suicide bomber, dressed in a police officer's uniform, arrived at the scene where an investigation group was working, and activated an explosive device he had on his body," the statement added.
The suicide bomber has been identified as Daud Jabrailov, a citizen of Kizlyar, Dagestan's Interior Ministry said.
A total of nine policemen were killed in the blasts, including the city's police chief. A criminal case has been opened into the incidents.
Tatyana Batsina, who works around 800 meters from the scene of the attacks, told RIA Novosti that she heard a loud bang and saw a cloud of smoke rise from behind a nearby school.
"It looked like in a nuclear explosion," she said. Around half an hour later she said she heard another blast, this time more muted.
"Two cars driving past were also harmed in the explosion. A crowd gathered around the first explosion. Everyone wanted to see what had happened. Several ambulances arrived, then another blast rang out."
Batsina said a colleague who saw the explosion told her what had happened.
"Bodies that were caught in the epicenter of the explosion were strewn over the street. The blast tore off the roof of the school and broke the windows. The walls of the building shook," Batsina said.
The president of Dagestan, Magomedsalam Magomedov, left the capital, Makhachkala, to visit the scene of the attack with some other officials, the region's administrative body told RIA Novosti.
Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev gave orders at a meeting of the Interior Ministry to strengthen security in areas of strategic importance and crowded public places in Dagestan.
"Today's terrorists will use any target. I ask you to pay attention and be on the alert to all objects of vital importance," he said
"We must increase vigilance in areas surrounding the interior ministry buildings, executive institutions and legislative authorities," he added.
The blasts occurred just two days after two deadly suicide bombings hit the Moscow metro on Monday, killing at least 39 people and injuring dozens more. The attackers struck the Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations about 40 minutes apart during the morning rush hour.
The Moscow attacks are believed to have been committed by terrorists from Russia's North Caucasus region.
Russia has been fighting militants in the North Caucasus for almost two decades, including two brutal wars against separatists in Chechnya. Analysts suggested that Monday's attacks were revenge for a recent police operation that saw the deaths of over 20 radical Islamic fighters.
No connection has been made yet between the incidents in Moscow and Dagestan.
MOSCOW, March 31 (RIA Novosti)