Explosion in Chechnya kills at least nine

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- An explosion ripped through a police building in the Chechen capital Thursday, killing at least nine people and injuring several, an emergency official said.

The blast heavily damaged the building in the Zavodskoi region of Grozny, officials said..

A Russian official in Chechnya, Imran Vagapov, said on Russia's TVS that preliminary information indicated nine people were killed and eight were hospitalized.

Grozny's vice mayor, Supyan Makhchayev, told ORT television he believed the explosion was a terrorist act, but Vagapov said a gas explosion was also a possible cause.

Moscow fought a 1994-96 war with Chechen separatists that ended in de facto independence for Chechnya. Russian troops returned in 1999 after rebels raided a neighboring region and after apartment-house bombings that killed more than 300 people were blamed on Chechen militants.