The capital city of the southern Russian republic of North Ossetia-Alania and a combat center of a still-active independence movement, Vladikavkaz is a hotbed of terrorism. The State Department strongly cautions Americans to avoid this part of the world, and that if they do happen to be here to “depart immediately.” Vladikavkaz has been the target of numerous bombings and shootings over the years. Several mayors have been gunned down. The city is also the unofficial base of the Black Widows, a group of female suicide bombers who have terrorized Russia with deadly attacks on trains, subways, airplanes, concerts, and schools, blamed for roughly 1,000 deaths in the last decade. I have a good friend in Moscow who is from Vladikavkaz. He disappeared a few years ago.

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