Assailants wielding automatic weapons from a passing car gunned down a former top Russian intelligence official while he drove on a Moscow street Sunday, Russian news agencies reported.

Col. Gen. Anatoly Trofimov (search), former deputy chief of the Federal Security Service under President Boris Yeltsin, was shot in his sport utility vehicle around 7:30 p.m. on a northern street, the Interfax news agency reported. He died on the scene.

The assailants fired from a small car, the ITAR-Tass news agency said. A woman believed to be Trofimov's wife was in the car and was seriously wounded and hospitalized, news agencies said.
Ekho Moskvyi radio said the attack may have been a contract killing related to unidentified business deals.

A duty officer at the Federal Security Service (search) headquarters could not confirm the report, and phone calls to the police went unanswered Sunday evening.

Trofimov, who also served as head of the Moscow branch of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, was fired by Yeltsin in 1997 following an examination by federal accountants for "gross violations and flaws in his work."

The Federal Security Service is the main successor agency to the KGB.

Top Russian business and political leaders routinely are attacked, often as a part of shady business deals. Last month, Anatoly Chubais, the head of the state-controlled Unified Energy Systems power grid, was ambushed by assailants, who detonated a bomb and raked his armored car with automatic weapons fire as he was being driven to work just outside Moscow.

Last summer, the editor of Forbes Magazine's Russian edition, Paul Klebnikov (search), was gunned down outside the magazine's offices.