Ingushetia’s construction minister was shot dead by two masked gunmen who burst into his office in the republic’s capital on Wednesday morning in a brazen attack, investigators said.
The unidentified gunmen entered the office of Construction Minister Ruslan Amerkhanov at about 10:30 a.m. and fired four shots at him at close range, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
The attackers also fired at the minister’s assistant and nephew, Magomed Amerkhanov, 25, slightly wounding him, the statement said. The assistant was briefly hospitalized.
The gunmen fled in a VAZ-2114 car with North Ossetian license plates, investigators said.
“A group of skilled experts flew to Ingushetia from the office of the Moscow Investigative Committee to assist in the investigation,” the Investigative Committee statement said.
The Ingush capital, Magas, is located four kilometers from the region’s main city of Nazran, where Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was badly injured in a car bombing in June.
The slain construction minister was a “very close and trusted official” of Yevkurov, said Kaloi Akhilgov, a spokesman for the Ingush president, who is recovering in a Moscow region rehabilitation center.
“The president is concerned that the murder is related to [Amerkhanov’s] professional activity,” Akhilgov said.
As part of his work, Amerkhanov had ordered inspections that led to the discovery of theft from the regional budget, he said.
Akhilgov said measures would be taken to beef up security for Ingush officials.
Acting Ingush President Rashid Gaisanov promised Wednesday that the killers would be found but declined to speculate on the reason for the attack.
“I won’t hurry and suggest motives for the crime,” he said.
Yevkurov, who was appointed by the Kremlin to replace former FSB General Murat Zyazikov in October 2008, named then-businessman Amerkhanov as construction minister during a reshuffle of the Ingush government in November.
Amerkhanov was married and had two children.
Yevkurov was leading a crackdown on official corruption and insurgency when a car bomber attacked his presidential motorcade in Nazran on June 22. Yevkurov was released from a Moscow hospital on Monday and plans to return to work from the rehabilitation center later this month.
Several senior officials have been killed in recent months after a period of relative calm following Yevkurov’s appointment as president, including former Ingush Interior Minister and government official Bashir Aushev, who was shot dead on June 13, and Ingush Supreme Court deputy chief justice Aza Gazgireyeva, who was killed on June 10.