Reuters International

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Three men blew themselves up outside a rural police station in southern Russia on Monday after trying to gain entry to the building as part of an unsuccessful attack, Russian investigators said in a statement.

The attack took place in Novoselitskoe, a village in Russia's Stavropol region close to the volatile majority-Muslim North Caucasus area, where Islamist militants intent on carving out a breakaway caliphate have targeted policemen in a series of car bombings and shootings.

"As a result of the blasts the police station and some cars nearby suffered some damage," Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement. "No local people or police were hurt."

Investigators said they had identified the suicide bombers, men from another village in the area with previous convictions, including for murder. Their names suggested they were Muslims.

Investigators did not suggest a motive but said they had opened a criminal case for an attempt on the life of police officers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was too soon to say whether the incident was a terrorist or a criminal act.

Local kindergartens and schools were evacuated as a precaution, news agencies reported, and police were put on a higher state of military-style readiness, said an interior ministry spokesman in the Stavropol region.

An eyewitness video on the lifenews.ru news site showed the blackened entrance to the police station and debris in front of it as a continuous alarm sounded.

The man filming the video, who was not named, said locals had heard five explosions and the sound of automatic gun fire.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly/Denis Pinchuk/Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

reuters_tickers

 Reuters International