Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday severely criticized law enforcement bodies in the restive south of the country, accusing them of ineffectiveness and corruption.
He said that at close to 12 police officers for every 1,000 people, the region had the largest ratio not only in Russia, but also in Europe and North America.
"However, we have many questions about the effectiveness of the law enforcement system and the effectiveness of spending on law enforcement," he was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Earlier in the day, Putin's envoy to the region, Dmitry Kozak, had told governors that the situation with corruption was "horrifying." He suggested some parts of the region that are the most heavily subsidized should be put under temporary financial management from Moscow.
State-controlled television broadcast excerpts of both Putin's and Kozak's comments, which appeared to be intended to demonstrate that the Kremlin was taking control over the Caucasus Mountains region of the south, the AP says.
The territory is plagued by recurring violence, including skirmishes with Islamic radicals and a succession of militant and criminal attacks against police and security officials. The impoverished region is seen as a ready source of recruits for Islamic-inspired terrorism.
Putin said terrorists were using the organized crime, corruption and drug-trafficking in the region to finance their activities.
The violence continued Friday. At least four gunmen wearing camouflage and masks broke into the apartment of a policeman in the turbulent southern Russian region of Ingushetia before dawn and killed the officer, the regional Interior Ministry said.
The assailants did not harm officer Magomed Nalgiyev's mother and children, who were also in the apartment in the region's largest city, Nazran, said ministry spokesman Nazir Yevloyev.
Elsewhere in the Caucasus region, four Russian soldiers were wounded in the explosion of a homemade bomb in the Chechen district of Urus-Martan, said Roman Shchekotin, spokesman for the southern district office of the Russian Interior Ministry.
Three members of a Chechen military unit were wounded in an explosion in Chechnya's Vedeno region, he said.
Chechnya, a mainly Muslim mountainous territory in southern Russia, has been torn by a guerrilla conflict between Russian troops and separatist rebels for much of the past decade. Violence has been spilling over increasingly into neighboring regions such as Ingushetia.
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