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Three Russian Ministry Workers Reported Killed In Ingushetia

Ingushetian homes destroyed in a search for militants in the restive republic
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Three workers from Russia's Emergency Ministry were gunned down overnight in the republic of Ingushetia, Interfax reported on August 2, underscoring simmering tensions in the country's south.

"Unknown individuals fired on the car in which the Emergency Ministry employees were travelling," the news agency reported, citing an Ingush Interior Ministry spokesman. "Two of them died immediately and the other died on arrival in hospital."

The government workers were driving in the western part of Russia's smallest region, near its border with North Ossetia.

In an unrelated incident, militants killed a policeman in the Russian republic of Daghestan, which is separated from Ingushetia by Chechnya.

"Unidentified men opened fire at a traffic police 2300 local time [on August 1]. An inspector was injured and a lieutenant was killed," Caucasus news agency reported, citing the regional Interior Ministry.

One of Russia's poorest regions, Ingushetia has taken over from neighboring Chechnya as the main center of violence in Russia’s turbulent south.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered sweeping operations against rebels after Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was badly wounded in an assassination attempt on June 22.

The Ingush opposition and human rights groups say lawlessness, graft, and violence are widespread and worsening, making the region one of the biggest headaches for the Kremlin.