Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 11:26 UK

Ingush minister shot dead at work

Ingushetia map

Two masked gunmen have shot dead the construction minister of the volatile Russian republic of Ingushetia, local officials say.

Ruslan Amerkhanov was killed in his office in the town of Magas on Wednesday. The gunmen then fled by car.

Attacks on government officials have become more common in the troubled, mainly Muslim North Caucasus republic.

In June, Ingushetia's President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt.

The Ingush interior ministry said the gunmen shot and killed Mr Amerkhanov at point-blank range in his office.

His assistant, Magomed Amerkhanov, was wounded in the attack.

Ingushetia has seen escalating clashes between security forces and armed militants in the past year, similar to the violence that continues in neighbouring Chechnya.

Ingush security officials quoted by Itar-Tass news agency said Wednesday's killing might be linked to a recent review of construction projects in the republic. Ingushetia is plagued by corruption, including in the construction sector.

Three employees of Russia's emergencies ministry were shot dead in Ingushetia ten days ago.

In Chechnya, Russian forces were engaged in heavy fighting with separatist rebels until a few years ago, though the fighting has become much less intense recently.

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