updated 5/20/2005 1:47:45 PM ET 2005-05-20T17:47:45

An explosion ripped through the courtyard of an apartment building in southern Russia’s Dagestan region Friday, killing the regional government’s ethnic policy minister and a woman, police said.

The Interfax news agency cited police as saying several others were injured.

Zagir Arukhov, the region’s minister for ethnic policy, information and external communications, was killed by the blast, which occurred outside a building across from a police station in the regional capital, Makhachkala, police spokeswoman Marina Rasulova said.

The other victim was an unidentified woman, she said.

Rasulova said she had no information about injuries, but Interfax quoted an unnamed police official as saying an unspecified number of people were injured.

Dagestan is an ethnically mixed, mostly Muslim region on the Caspian Sea, bordering Chechnya. It is plagued by violence, some of it linked to the war between Russian forces and Chechen rebels and some to local criminal activity.

For months, Dagestan has experienced a series of attacks, including bombings, on police and other authorities.

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