MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP) – A female suicide bomber blew herself up in the southern Russian region of Dagestan on Saturday injuring at least 18, including two children and five police officers, police said. The attacker was later identified as a widow of two Islamic radicals killed by security forces.
It was the first suicide bombing in Dagestan since the Boston Marathon bombings last month. The Tsarnaev brothers suspected of carrying out those attacks are ethnic Chechens who lived in this turbulent Caucasus province before moving to the U.S. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder brother who was killed a shootout with police days after the April 15 bombings, spent six months in Dagestan in 2012.
Dagestan remains an epicenter of violence in the confrontation between Islamic radicals and federal forces. Islamic extremists strive to create an independent Muslim state, or “emirate,” in the Caucasus and parts of southern Russia with a sizable Muslim population.
In Saturday’s attack, the bomber detonated an explosives-laden belt in the central square in the provincial capital, Makhachkala, Dagestan’s police spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov said.
The woman was identified as Madina Alieva, 25, who married an Islamist who was killed in 2009 and then wedded another Islamic radical who was gunned down last year, police spokeswoman Fatina Ubaidatova said.
The bombers are often called “black widows” in Russia because many are the widows, or other relatives, of militants killed by security forces. Islamic militants are believed to convince “black widows” that a suicide bombing will reunite them with their dead relatives beyond the grave.