(Reuters) - A blast ripped through the capital of Russia's volatile Chechnya region on Monday, killing at least four interior ministry soldiers and injuring three people, a local government source said.
The explosion, which Interfax news agency said happened as the soldiers left an armored vehicle near their garrison quarters, shattered the fragile peace of the broader North Caucasus region, where militants trying to create an Islamist state use violence daily.
A Reuters witness saw the remains of three people in camouflage clothing lying at the roadside after the blast.
Local law enforcement officials said the blast could have been carried out by two suicide bombers. Residents said they heard two explosions, the second of which sent flames and smoke into the air.
"Measures are being taken to determine the identity of the terrorists as well as a search for their possible accomplices and organizers of the explosion," the local Interior Ministry said in a statement published on the Chechen government website.
Compared with the rest of the North Caucasus, violence has been rare in Chechnya where Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov has used strong-arm tactics to clamp down on the insurgency.
Locals and human rights workers say such methods, along with religious strife and corruption, have added fuel to the violence, which is rooted in two wars that Moscow has fought against separatists in Chechnya since 1994.
The focus of the violence has since moved to the neigbouring region of Dagestan.