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New suicide blasts kill 12 in southern Russia

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MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP) -- Two suicide bombers -- including one impersonating a police officer -- killed 12 people today in southern Russia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the blasts may have been organized by the same militants who attacked the Moscow subway.

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The powerful former president had previously vowed to "drag out of the sewer" the terrorists behind the attacks in Moscow, which killed 39 people and injured scores of commuters during Monday's rush hour.

Today's blasts struck in the province of Dagestan. Bombings and other attacks occur almost daily in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia, provinces in Russia's North Caucasus region where government forces are struggling against a separatist Islamist insurgency.

"I don't rule out that this is one and the same gang," Putin said at a televised Cabinet meeting.

President Dmitry Medvedev said later the attacks were "links of the same chain."

The Moscow subway bombings were the first suicide attacks in the Russian capital in six years and shocked a country that had grown accustomed to having such violence confined to its restive southern corner. Those attacks followed a warning from an Islamic militant leader that the militants would bring their struggle to the heart of Russia.

Today, a suicide bomber in a car detonated explosives when police tried to stop the car in the town of Kizlyar near Dagestan's border with Chechnya, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said.

"Traffic police followed the car and almost caught up -- at that time the blast hit," Nurgaliyev said.

As investigators and residents gathered around the scene of the blast, a second bomber wearing a police uniform approached and set off explosives, killing the town's police chief among others, Nurgaliyev said.

Nine police were among the dead from both blasts, and at least 23 other people were injured, authorities said. A school and police station nearby were also damaged.

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