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Minister shot dead in restive Ingushetia

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-08-13

Ruslan Amerkhanov, the construction minister of the restive North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia, has been shot dead in his own office. The Russian republic's pro-Kremlin authorities are battling an increasingly deadly Islamist insurgency.

The construction minister of Russia's restive southern republic of Ingushetia, Ruslan Amerkhanov, was shot dead in his own office on Wednesday.

 

The incident is the latest in a string of high-profile killings in the mainly Muslim region. A spokesman for the local prosecutor’s office told AFP that the gunman was yet to be identified.

Ingushetia, a small republic in the Caucasus to the east of North Ossetia and west of Chechnya, has been home to an increasingly bitter struggle between the authoritarian, pro-Kremlin government and a growing Islamist insurgency.

“The Islamist militia want to install emirates in all of the Caucasius,” explains Frédérick Lavoie, a journalist for Radio Canada based in the Chechen capital of Grozny, in an interview with FRANCE 24.

Discussing the government’s role in the conflict, Lavoie says local forces are not just targeting the Islamists but are also “killing innocent people, triggering anger.”

The battle has been taken up at the grass-roots level, he adds: “Young people are going into the forest to fight against the local authorities.”

Amerkhanov’s killing is only the most recent in a spate of violent attempts on the lives of government officials. On June 22, Ingush leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov -- appointed by the Kremlin last year to pacify the restive region -- was badly wounded in a car bombing that left him in a coma.

On June 10, Aza Gazgireyeva, the deputy head of Ingushetia's supreme court was killed when gunmen opened fire on her car.

Date created : 2009-08-12