MAKHACHKALA — Two car bombs killed at least four people on Monday in Dagestan, a turbulent province in Russia's North Caucasus region where armed groups are waging an Islamist insurgency.
Car bombs, suicide bombings and firefights are common in Dagestan, at the center of an insurgency rooted in two post-Soviet wars against separatist rebels in neighboring Chechnya.
Investigators initially said eight people had been killed by the successive blasts in the provincial capital Makhachkala, but law enforcement officials later put the death toll at four and said about 40 people had been wounded.
Both explosions were near the headquarters of the court marshals service and appeared to have been detonated by remote control, said the federal Investigative Committee.
Twisted wreckage of a car could be seen near the building, which was cordoned off by police.
Most of the wounded and the two dead were caught by the second of Monday's explosions, a few minutes after the first, the investigators said.
Insurgents in the North Caucasus have often sought to increase casualties by setting off an initial blast to attract law enforcement officers and then detonating a second bomb.
Dagestan, an ethnically mixed, mostly Muslim region between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, has become the most violent province in the North Caucasus, where insurgents say they are fighting to carve out an Islamic state out of southern Russia.
At least 405 people were killed in Dagestan in violence linked to the insurgency last year, according to the Caucasian Knot website, which tracks developments in the region.
Putin launched the second war in Chechnya as prime minister in 1999 and likes to take credit for preventing the region from splitting from Russia. But his 13 years in power have been marred by deadly attacks claimed by or blamed on the insurgents.