MOSCOW: Unidentified gunmen on Tuesday assassinated the top regional security official in Russia's violence-plagued Caucasus republic of Ingushetia as he was being driven to work, investigators said.
Akhmed Kotiev, head of Ingushetia's Security Council, was killed when gunmen opened fire on his car in an attack that also claimed the life of his driver, the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The attack took place at around 7:30 am (0330 GMT) close to the village of Nizhnie Achaluki in Ingushetia, the statement said.
"All possible theories are being looked at but priority is being given to his professional activities," the statement added.
The head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov swiftly condemned the attack which he said was related to Kotiev's work to end the violent insurgency against security forces in the region.
He said Kotiev had been particularly active in seeking to encourage members of the Islamist underground to return to a normal life, a relatively novel tactic by the authorities who have long only used strongarm tactics against militants.
"In the last years Akhmed had very successfully worked on this," Yevkurov told RIA Novosti.
"He always spoke his mind and was not scared of openly talking to relatives of the underground members, calling on the bandits to put down their arms and return to a normal life."
"To find those who did this will be a matter of honour," he added.
Like other largely Muslim regions of Russia's Northern Caucasus, the pro-Kremlin authorities in Ingushetia have been fighting an Islamist-tinged insurgency that claims dozens of lives every year.
Analysts have long suggested the insurgency is not only fuelled by the growing popularity of Islamic fundamentalism but also rampant unemployment which encourages young adults to turn towards extremism.