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Kremlin contemplates continued conflict in Ca -

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After two separatist wars in Chechnya, the North Caucasus is creating more headaches for Russia -
this time with an assassination attempt on the Kremlin-appointed president of Ingushetia. It's the
latest in a string of high-profile attacks in the troubled Russian republic.

PETER CAVE: Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, a constant thorn in Russia's side has been its
North Caucasus region.

Russia has fought to quell separatists in two wars in Chechnya, and recently violence has been
spilling over into neighbouring republics, creating a more widespread headache for Moscow.

Now the Kremlin-appointed President of Ingushetia has been the target of an assassination attempt -
the latest in a string of high-profile attacks in this troubled Russian republic.

Our correspondent Scott Bevan reports from Moscow.

SCOTT BEVAN: President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was travelling in a motorcade bound for his office in the
Ingush capital of Nazran when there was an explosion. The President's spokesman Kaloi Akhilgov has
told the ABC it is believed a car bomb was detonated and that its target was the Ingush leader.

KARLOI AKHILGOV (translated): There was a parked car on the side of the road. We don't know the
exact model. It is being investigated. It exploded the exact moment the President's motorcade was
going past.

SCOTT BEVAN: Two were killed in the blast and the injured President was rushed to hospital where he
underwent emergency surgery. His spokesman described the President's condition as grave but stable.

Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was appointed leader of Ingushetia in October by President Dmitry Medvedev to
try and turn back the rising tide of violence in this predominately Muslim republic in Russia's
south. Moscow has often blamed this violence on separatist groups.

President Medvedev has described the attack on his handpicked leader as a terrorist act.

"A lot has been done by the Ingush President personally to sort out the mess and build peace in the
republic," Mr Medvedev said, "and militants don't like this so what's happened is in response to
his strengthening position of authority."

Being in a position of power in Ingushetia has become very dangerous. In the past fortnight, gunmen
have killed a senior judge and a former deputy prime minister and in nearby Dagestan violence is
also climbing. Just over two weeks ago, the republic's Interior Minister was shot dead at a

The insurgency spreading in the region flies in the face of Moscow ending its decade-long
counter-terrorism operator in Chechnya in April, declaring that separatists there had been

Tanya Lokshina is from the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch.

TANYA LOKSHINA: The situation in the Northern Caucuses is quite explosive and Ingushetia has
certainly become Russia's key hotspot these days.

SCOTT BEVAN: What are the implications of this assassination attempt for the people of Ingushetia?

TANYA LOKSHINA: Well, I've seen quite a few people in Ingushetia since this and everyone seems to
be pretty shaken up. People are frightened of what the insurgents are doing to the small republics.
They are also frightened over possible retaliation by the special services and all the large-scale
counter insurgency operation that have been planned on the ground.

SCOTT BEVAN: Within hours of the attack on the Ingush President, Russia's federal security service
had launched a counterterrorism operation in Nazran and that means the lives of everyone there are
changed as a range of restrictions comes into effect.

This is Scott Bevan in Moscow for The World Today.