Massive Explosion Wounds At Least 12 in Restive Dagestan Region

MAKHACHKALA, Dagestan – A massive explosion at a hospital in Russia’s restive North Caucasus republic of Dagestan wounded at least a dozen people, news portal Kavkaz-uzel reported Thursday.

According to Dagestan’s health ministry, five of the 12 injured by the blast are in critical condition.

The incident comes only three days after a huge explosion caused by a gas leak at a banquet hall in the regional capital Makhachkala left 27 people seriously injured.

The victims of Thursday’s blast reportedly include two 14-year-old schoolgirls, who suffered severe burns on most of their bodies.

"At this point, the patients are in critical condition, and we plan to transfer them burn centers in Moscow," Kavkaz-uzel quoted Dagestan’s Health Minister Tank Ibragimov in the hours after the explosion.

The cause of both explosions remains unknown, though the possibility that both were acts of terror remains high.

Dagestan, a Scotland-sized Muslim republic in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region, has suffered from a low-level by increasingly violent anti-Moscow insurgency since the late 1990s.

Much like neighboring Chechnya, elements of Dagestan’s society have taken up arms against direct rule from Moscow.

While initially less active than their Chechen counterparts, the insurgency in Dagestan has grown in recent years as rebel fighters and Islamic militants from Chechnya, Ingushetia and Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge have joined forces to fight the local Russian-backed authorities.

By Nicholas Waller

04 August 2016 17:48