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GROZNY | A suicide bomber blew himself up in the capital of Russia’s restive Chechnya on Wednesday, outside a theater where the region’s Kremlin-appointed president was waiting for a concert to begin, officials said.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, a former separatist rebel who switched sides to support Russia, was not injured. But the Investigative Commission, Russia’s top investigative body, said five police officers and two civilians were wounded in the blast.

The explosion, at about 6 p.m., shook the center of Grozny, a city gingerly trying to come back to life after being devastated in two wars between separatists and Russian forces since 1994.

Mr. Kadyrov’s office said in a statement that police guarding the theater noticed a man behaving suspiciously and that when they shouted at him, he detonated an explosive device.


Pope shuffles staff before vacation

Preoccupied for months by the clerical sex abuse scandal, the pope on Wednesday shuffled the Vatican bureaucracy before heading off on vacation. His most significant appointment: the head of a new office designed to fight secularism in the West.

Pope Benedict XVI tapped a trusted Italian, Monsignor Rino Fisichella, to head the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, a new Vatican department designed to reinvigorate Christianity in the parts of the world where it is falling by the wayside.

Benedict has made rekindling the faith in Europe a priority of his papacy, and the appointment of Monsignor Fisichella served as a tacit acknowledgment that his efforts to date needed focus.

Also Wednesday, Benedict named Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet to head the powerful Congregation for Bishops, which vets bishop nominations worldwide. Cardinal Ouellet, the 66-year-old archbishop of Quebec, replaces the retiring Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, and his new high-profile job ups his ranking as a papal contender.

Benedict also moved his New York-based U.N. ambassador to Poland to serve as papal nuncio and named a new head of the Vatican’s bioethics advisory board, the Pontifical Academy for Life.

From wire dispatches and staff reports