Gunmen kill Ingushetia security chief Ahmed Kotiev

Russia Interior Ministry (MVD) The car came under a hail of bullets (pic: Russian Interior Ministry, MVD)

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The top security official in the Russian Caucasus republic of Ingushetia has died after his car was attacked by gunmen.

Ahmed Kotiev was being driven to work at around 07:30 (03:30 GMT) when he was attacked near the village of Nizhniye Achaluki, reports say.

His driver was also killed.

Ingushetia President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said Mr Kotiev had been targeted because of his work to bring an end to an insurgency that has killed hundreds.

Mr Kotiev, who was secretary of Ingushetia's security council, was taken to hospital but died of his injuries, officials told Interfax. His driver was said to have died at the scene.

'Matter of honour'

He had been "very successfully" talking to Islamist insurgents and encouraging them to lay down their arms, Mr Yevkurov told Russian media.

"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," he said.

Mr Yevkurov said it would be a "matter of honour" to track down those responsible.

"All possible theories are being looked at but priority is being given to his professional activities," the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Ingushetia borders Chechnya, where separatists have fought two wars with Russia over the past two decades.

Chechnya's violence has spread across the Russian North Caucasus in recent years, including to mainly-Muslim Ingushetia and Dagestan.

Hundreds of people, including members of the government and security services, have been killed.

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