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16 Aug, 2009 08:03

Caucasus on alert: brazen murders rock Russia’s south

Overall, in three separate incidents over the past few days, six police officers and seven women have been killed in the republic of Dagestan. Violence is on the rise in the neighboring Republic of Ingushetia, too.

Cop-killing sniper on the loose in Dagestan

A police officer has been killed after a traffic police outpost in the capital of Russia’s Southern republic of Dagestan came under repeated gun fire.

The attacker is thought to have been using a sniper rifle with a silencer.

In a separate attack, a policeman was shot in the head in another district of the city, but survived and was admitted to hospital.

It was the second attack on police in the city within a few hours.

One day earlier, presumably the same gunman opened fire on a police squad patrolling Makhachkala’s central square, just meters from the republic’s Interior Ministry, killing two police officers and wounding one. Experts say in that case, too, a sniper rifle with a silencer was used.

Traffic police stations in the region have been ordered to beef up their security. A special police task force is searching for the sniper throughout the city.

Unrest in neighboring republic

A string of political murders has also rocked the neighboring republic of Ingushetia.

The Minister of Construction was killed in his office, while the republic’s President has just recovered from a road bomb attack on his convoy.

President Dmitry Medvedev said the increasing level of violence was aimed at destabilizing the region by challenging federal law-enforcement bodies.

The president has also promised every effort to find the murderers of human rights activists in Chechnya, making it a high priority.

During the week at least six militants were killed and dozens arrested.