In 2006, we met several North Ossetian artists on our trip to Kazbegi, just across the border in the Republic of Georgia. In light of today's bloody bombing in Vladikavkaz, I send my sorrow and solidarity to the good people of North Ossetia.
The BBC has what they always call "disturbing video," and it surely is. The accompanying story says 16 are dead. The North Ossetians have had more than their share of grief. Beslan, where the gruesome 2004 school siege killed over 300, is also in North Ossetia.
But the news is grim throughout the northern Caucasus, as this quote from an AP article today shows:
In Dagestan, officials said Thursday that a hotel employee and another civilian were shot to death by men trying to build a bomb in their hotel room.
Republican Interior Ministry spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov said the shooting took place late Wednesday in the capital Makhachkala. He said three armed men fled a room in the small hotel after an explosion and opened fire on a hotel clerk and another person who confronted them. He says police found several bombs and six grenades in the room.
In the Dagestani town of Khasavyurt, on the border with Chechnya, a policeman returning home from work was shot to death, Gasanov said.
Dagestan is plagued by near-daily shootings and explosions blamed on criminal gangs and on militants inspired by the insurgency in neighboring Chechnya.
Before you head out for the 2014 Sochi Games, read some of the great, brave up-close reporting from throughout the region (including a nice description of why you likely wouldn't want to spend much of your vacation in a hotel in Makachkala, capital of Dagestan), in Towers of Stone by Wojciech Jagielski. A couple more suggestions here. More photos from Georgia here.