At Least 17 Dead In Russian Republic After Suicide Car Bombing

A car bomb exploded Thursday in the Russian republic of North Ossetia, killing at least 17 people -- including an 18-month-old baby -- and wounding up to 123 others, local health officials said. The vehicle blew up near a market in the city of Vladikavkaz, the republic's leader, Taimuraz Mamsurov, told the Interfax news agency. "Information that I possess indicates that the explosion in Vladikavkaz was organized by a suicide bomber, who drove a Volga 3102 car to near the entrance to the market," Mamsurov said. The injured included 10 people in critical condition and 90 in serious condition, health officials said. Investigators said the explosive device contained the equivalent of 40 kilograms of TNT. The bomb was placed inside a vehicle parked at the entrance to the central market in downtown Vladikavkaz, with a suicide bomber sitting inside the car, said the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor's Office, which qualified the attack as a "terrorist act." The device detonated at 11:20 a.m. (3:20 a.m. ET). The committee also said the bomb was stuffed with various pieces of metal to increase the human damage. A natural gas canister, stored in the car's trunk, also detonated, the committee said. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry is sending special medical planes to Vladikavkaz to airlift heavily injured patients to Moscow's leading trauma clinics. Friday was declared a day of national mourning in North Ossetia, according to a local government decree. Flags on all regional buildings will fly at half-staff and all entertainment programs on local TV will be cancelled as well as concerts and theater performances. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking on national TV, pledged that all organizers of the deadly bombing will be identified and punished -- or killed.