The blast came amid persistent tension following Russia’s war with Georgia over South Ossetia and its recognition of the breakaway republic as an independent nation.
The South Ossetian government said a car, that had been confiscated in an ethnic Georgian village after weapons were found in it, exploded near a building where leaders of the Russian peacekeeping force were located.
Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that the dead were members of the military. But South Ossetia’s separatist president Eduard Kokoity said the dead included military and civilians, ITAR-Tass news reported.
Kokoity accused Georgia’s State Security Service of plotting the explosion, which came as EU monitors are replacing Russian troops in a swath of territory ringing South Ossetia.
Russia plans to keep 3,800 troops in the separatist region. US, Nato and the EU say that presence violates a cease-fire agreement in the August war.
Russia’s war with pro-Western, US-supported Georgia and its recognition of South Ossetia and another breakaway region as independent states has badly damaged already severely strained relations between Moscow and the West.
Kokoity said the vehicle had been “acquired on Georgian territory” and brought to the peace-keepers’ headquarters to be checked, ITAR-tass reported. He said the dead included people who had driven the car to the headquarters in South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinvali.