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Attacks and Bomb Scares Rattle Caucasus

Members of a bomb disposal team getting ready to disarm an explosive found in a car in Stavropol on Thursday. Eduard Korniyenko

An apparent counterattack by Islamist insurgents, who lost 15 men in security operations in Dagestan this week, killed at least two police officers and injured 19 other people in the North Caucasus, while bomb scares rattled residents in Stavropol and Beslan, news reports said Thursday.

Stavropol residents alerted police about a car containing a bomb and a dead body with multiple stab wounds abandoned near a cafe Thursday, RIA-Novosti reported.

The bomb, equivalent to about 15 kilograms of TNT, was disarmed. Initial reports said the unidentified dead man might have been a suicide bomber who killed himself by a smaller blast but failed to detonate a larger bomb. But an unidentified police officer told RIA-Novosti that the man probably had been forced into the car for reasons that remained unclear.

A bomb hidden in a bag and placed under a tree in central Stavropol exploded May 26, killing eight and injuring 50.

A school in the North Ossetian town of Beslan — where terrorists seized a school in a 2004 attack that killed 334 — was evacuated Thursday because of a phone call about a bomb planted in the building, RIA-Novosti reported. No explosives were found on the premises.

Meanwhile, 17 riot police officers were wounded in a blast not far from the airport of the Dagestani town of Kaspiisk late Wednesday, Interfax reported. Eight were hospitalized, one in serious condition.

About the same time, two investigators were shot dead by unidentified assailants on a street in the Kabardino-Balkaria town of Tyrnauz, Interfax reported.

A controlled explosion targeted a traffic police car in Kabardino-Balkaria's capital, Nalchik, early Thursday, Interfax reported. An officer and the driver of a passing car sustained head injuries in the incident.

Fifteen militants were killed by police in coordinated raids in Kaspiisk and the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, on Wednesday. No casualties were reported for law enforcement officers.

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