MOSCOW, Aug 19: A suicide bomber killed seven policemen as they arrived on Sunday at a colleague's funeral in the volatile Russian North Caucasus, hours after gunmen opened fire in a mosque, killing one and wounding seven.

The attack at the funeral in the region of Ingushetia left seven policemen as well as the suicide bomber dead, a spokesman for the regional emergency situations ministry said.

Fifteen people were wounded in the blast that rang out as the mainly Muslim region celebrated the end of the holy month of Ramazan, the spokesman said.

“A terrorist suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of people who had come to see off the policeman on his final journey,” said the leader of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, in comments published by the local government.

Yevkurov told the Interfax news agency that a severed head found at the scene of attack was believed to be that of the suicide bomber.

“We are working on finding out whose head is lying at the scene of the explosion, and we will establish the identity of the bandit,” Yevkurov said.

The policemen had come to pay their last respects to a fellow officer, Ilez Korigov, who had been killed in a shooting on Saturday evening in the Malgobek district in the north of the region, investigators said.

Russian television showed the taped-off crime scene guarded by armed soldiers in camouflage. The force of the blast had blown out windows from cars and tore apart metal gates in the street of neat red-brick houses.

Yevkurov speculated that the attack at the funeral, which was held at a private home, was planned by the organisers of Korigov's shooting.

“It's an attack planned in advance, directly linked to the murder of Ilez Korigov, by those who knew that all his colleagues would come to bid farewell to their comrade-in-arms,” he said in his official statement.—AFP

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