A top regional security official has been shot dead in the troubled Russian republic of Ingushetia.
A statement by Russia's Investigative Committee said Akhmed Kotiyev, the head of Ingushetia's Security Council, was killed when gunmen ambushed the car he was traveling in near the village of Nizhnie Achaluki early in the morning on August 27. Kotiyev's driver was also killed.
The head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, said the shooting was related to Kotiyev's work to end the violent Islamist-influenced insurgency in the region.
"The main theory is that [the attack is related] to Akhmed's activities and work as a secretary of the Security Council, and even more connected to the activities of the Adaptation Commission that works on assisting those insurgents who have recently surrendered," Yevkurov said.
Yevkurov told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that Kotiyev was very successful in "calling on the bandits to put down their arms and return to a normal life." Yevkurov added that finding the killers "will be a matter of honor."
The chief of the Russian Interior Ministry's Directorate in the North Caucasus, Sergei Chenchik, said that he had taken the investigation under his personal control. The directorate's top investigators have reportedly traveled to the crime scene.
Ingushetia's law enforcement officials say their preliminary investigation suggests that an Islamic insurgency leader, Artur Getagazhev, was involved in the killing. The identities of several other individuals who might have participated are being checked.
Kotiyev survived an assassination attempt last year when unknown assailants launched a grenade into his house, damaging the building.
Russia's mostly Muslim-populated and ethnically mixed North Caucasus region has been plagued by violence for years.
After two unsuccessful separatist wars in Russia's Chechnya in mid-1990s and early 2000s, the Islamic militancy spilled over into other North Caucasus republics, such as Ingushetia, Daghestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria.
Militants attack police, moderate Muslims, and local officials almost daily, saying they are fighting to create an Islamic state in southern Russia.
Based on reporting by AFP, ITAR-TASS, and Rossia 24