MOSCOW, June 22 (RIA Novosti) - The president of Russia's volatile southern republic of Ingushetia has been hospitalized after he was seriously injured in an assassination attempt, the republic's Interior Ministry said on Monday.
"Ingush President Yunus-bek Yevkurov, his younger brother and one of his bodyguards were injured in the explosion. They have all been taken to hospital," the Interior Ministry said.
A source in regional security agencies said Yevkurov was in serious condition in intensive care, while his brother had died. The source said at least four people were killed and five wounded in the explosion, which targeted the president's vehicle and was equivalent to about 200 kg of TNT.
Hospital officials confirmed that three people have been hospitalized, adding the president was being prepared for an operation.
The president's car is believed to have been hit by an explosive device planted on the roadside or in a car parked along the presidential motorcade's route, Russian investigators said.
A senior Russian lawmaker said the assassination attempt was over Yevkurov's bid to end a spiral of violence in the republic.
"Ingushetia's new president has been doing everything to normalize the situation in the republic," said Mikhail Grishankov, deputy head of the State Duma security committee. He added that Moscow had to help Ingushetia fight militant groups.
Attacks on security officials and authorities have been staged daily in the republic, which neighbors Chechnya. A top judge and a former deputy prime minister were shot dead in separate incidents earlier this month.
Yevkurov, 45, a former intelligence official in a Urals district, became president last October. In a recent RIA Novosti interview, he said he would offer amnesty to remaining militants, but pledged "to eliminate" those who would not lay down arms.
Russia's North Caucasus republics, especially Ingushetia and Daghestan, have been swept by a wave of violence recently, two months after the government formally ended its decade-long counterterrorism operation in Chechnya, which witnessed two brutal separatist wars in the 1990s and early 2000s.