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7 Sep, 2007 20:35

Yet another victim of violence in Ingushetia

A policeman is in a critical condition in hospital after being shot in the city of Karabulak in Russia's southern Republic of Ingushetia. The attackers have not been identified yet.

It's the latest in what seems to be a string of ethnically motivated attacks in Russia’s volatile Republic of Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya. Local authorities insist everything is under control. However the number of murders, shootings and explosions is steadily rising.

Natalya Muradova, head of a local blood transfusion centre, was wounded in front of her house and died on the way to hospital. She was a Russian married to a Chechen.

On August 31, unknown gunmen attacked the house of a Russian teacher Vera Draganchuk. Her husband and two sons were killed while the woman and another relative escaped through a window.

“I did not see anything. I jumped out of there right away. My brother was sleeping, even he did not hear anything. He jumped out later when he heard cries. Everything happened so quickly, it lasted no more than three minutes,” Vera Draganchuk complained.

Four suspects have been detained. Investigators say they are considering several scenarios, from stirring-up ethnic unrest to possible domestic violence.

“There are a number of suspects that have committed similar crimes against ethnic Dagestanis. The killings might be aimed at disrupting the federal programme which allows Russian nationals to return to Ingushetia and at destabilising the situation in the republic,” commented Yury Turygin, prosecutor of Ingushetia. 

Prosecutors believe the group responsible for killing Vera Draganchuk's family may also have been involved in the murder of Ludmila Terekhina and two of her children in July. The circumstances were strikingly similar, Terekhina was also a Russian and a teacher, and she and her family were also shot dead in their house.

During their funeral an explosion occurred at the cemetery, injuring eleven people. 

But it's not only civilians who have been targeted in recent months, but police and armed forces as well. 

On Wednesday gunmen attacked a federal police base, wounding three officers, while the previous week four policemen were killed by a car bomb.

Some analysts connect the recent escalation of violence in the region with the arrival of 2,500 Russian military sent to Ingushetia to search for militants.