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Ingush Doctor Shot Dead In Nazran

September 7, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The chief doctor at a blood-transfusion center in Ingushetia has been killed in the North Caucasus republic's main city, Nazran.

Natalia Mudarova, a 66-year-old ethnic Russian, was killed when at least two unidentified gunmen parked next to her house jumped from their car and opened fire as Mudarova was returning home for lunch today.

RFE/RL's Russian Service reports that several neighbors witnessed the shooting and took Mudarova to the hospital, where she died from her wounds.

The gunmen managed to escape from the scene. Police later found bullet cartridges from a Makarov-style pistol. Prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the shooting, and a search for the killers is under way.

The motive for the shooting is not known. But it comes amid rising violence in the volatile region bordering Chechnya, much of which is seen as targeting ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers.

Mudarova's death brings to at least seven the number of Russians and Russian-speakers killed in Ingushetia since July.

Local officials have blamed Islamist rebels for the killings, as well as other assaults on police and other authorities.

Earlier in September, some 2,500 Interior Ministry troops were sent to the region to support local security forces.

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