Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Terrorists explode minibus in Russia's south, killing 11

An explosion hit a minibus unloading passengers in the capital of Russia's North Ossetia province on Thursday, killing 11 people, federal investigators said.

A duty officer at the Emergency Situations Ministry in North Ossetia, who was not authorized to give his name, said the blast was caused by a roadside bomb.

Passengers were getting off the bus near the entrance to the central market in Vladikavkaz when the blast went off, Russia's Investigative Committee said on its Web site.

NTV television showed footage of the minibus with windows shattered and an axle destroyed, with shards of glass and what looked like human remains on the pavement.

The Investigative Committee, a branch of the national prosecutor-general's office, said it had opened an investigation into what may have been a terrorist attack. It said 11 people were killed.

The Emergency Situations Ministry officer said seven people were killed. The Interfax news agency cited North Ossetia's leader, Teimuraz Mamsurov, as saying preliminary reports indicated eight were dead.

North Ossetia borders war-scarred Chechnya as well as Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region, the focus of a war in August between Russia and Georgia.

It has been the site of several bomb blasts since the start of Russia's wars against Chechen separatists over a decade ago. North Ossetia and other provinces in Russia's restive North Caucasus have been plagued by terrorist and militant attacks linked to the wars in Chechnya and internal disputes.

Ethnic Ossetians predominate in both North Ossetia and South Ossetia. Russia recognized South Ossetia as an independent nation after the August war, but the only country to follow suit s far is Nicaragua.

A car bomb blast last month killed seven soldiers outside Russia's military headquarters in South Ossetia. Russian authorities claimed it was a terrorist bombing meant to wreck the tense cease-fire that ended the war with Georgia. Georgian officials claimed Russia was behind the blast.