updated 2/2/2006 8:22:30 PM ET 2006-02-03T01:22:30

Three bombs ripped through slot-machine parlors in a southern Russian city Thursday night, killing at least two people and injuring up to 25 others, officials said.

The explosions occurred around the same time at gambling establishments in downtown Vladikavkaz, said Boris Dzgoyev, the Emergency Situations minister in North Ossetia province.

Ministry spokesman Vladimir Ivanov said two people were killed and 16 injured, while the Interfax news agency said North Ossetia’s Health Ministry put the injury toll at 25.

One of the dead was a 25-year-old woman and the other was a man, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported, and reports said most of the injured were young people.

He said prosecutors were treating the blasts as terrorism, but another ministry spokesman, Oleg Ugnivenko, said they could have been the result of a criminal dispute. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

North Ossetia’s top official, Taimuraz Mansurov, told an emergency government meeting that he would demand the closure of all gambling establishments in the province, suggesting the blasts could be linked to a crackdown on gambling, Interfax reported.

Vladikavkaz is the capital of North Ossetia, which borders war-ravaged Chechnya and is part of Russia’s restive North Caucasus. The province is the site of Beslan, the town where militants seized hostages at a school in a 2004 raid that ended with more than 330 people dead.

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