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Ruslan Amerkhanov, Russian Minister, Shot In Ingushetia

08/12/09 05:54 AM ET   AP

Ingushetia

NAZRAN, Russia — The construction minister in Russia's violence-plagued Ingushetia was shot to death in his office Wednesday, the latest in a series of high-profile attacks on top officials in the restive republic.

Ruslan Amerkhanov was shot by two men who entered his office in the republic's capital Magas, one armed with an assault rifle and the other with a pistol, said Ingush Interior Ministry spokeswoman Madina Khadziyeva. The minister's assistant was wounded in the shooting, she said.

The assailants fled in a waiting car.

Ingush Security Council secretary Alexei Vorobyov said investigators believe the killing could be related to recent audits of construction projects that turned up building violations and misuse of funds.

Ingushetia, which borders war-battered Chechnya, in recent months has seen near-daily attacks on police or police operations against fighters variously believed to be militants inspired by Chechnya's separatists or connected with criminal clans.

In June, Ingush president Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was seriously injured in a suicide car-bomb attack on his convoy. Two weeks earlier, a justice of the republic's supreme court was shot to death as she dropped off her children at a kindergarten.

Dagestan, on Chechnya's eastern border, is similarly troubled by violence. The republic's top law-enforcement official was killed by a sniper in June, and attacks on police are frequent.

Two police were killed by bombs in the Dagestani city of Derbent this week, and police on Wednesday said another bomb exploded in the city but caused no injuries.

In Chechnya, major fighting between separatists and Russian forces dwindled away years ago, but small clashes and attacks on security forces persist.

Two policemen were killed in separate attacks during the night as they returned to their homes, said Chechen Interior Ministry spokesman Magomed Deniyev.

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Filed by Susan Ryan  |