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Hospital blast kills 20 in Russia

Nazran (Russia), Aug. 1 (Reuters): A vehicle packed with explosives blew up outside a hospital in a Russian region bordering Chechnya today, killing at least 20 people and destroying the building, local officials said.

President Vladimir Putin ordered his defence minister Sergei Ivanov to fly to the scene of the attack at Russia’s army base of Mozdok, in the region of North Ossetia bordering Chechnya.

“At least 20 people have been killed, the building is burning, and it is impossible to approach it. All four storeys have collapsed,” a spokesperson for the local outlet of Russia’s emergencies ministry said. Russian news agencies quoted officials as saying a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives through the gate and detonated it.

Officials at the emergencies ministry said it was not yet clear if was the truck or another vehicle parked at the gate that caused the explosion. Troops had cordoned off the area but rescue work was hampered by fire which has engulfed the ruins.

Mozdok was the base for many Russian troops when they poured back into Chechnya in 1999. It has rarely been touched by the violence in Chechnya, but was the scene of a suicide bombing two months ago when a woman blew herself up and killed 18 people.

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