MAKHACHKALA, Russia (AP) — Three militants broke into the home of a senior investigator in Russia's restive North Caucasus region on Sunday and shot him dead after binding his wife and son with tape in the next room, police said.

The attackers shot police Lt. Col. Yunus Khulatayev three times at point-blank range in his apartment in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, and then fled, police said.

The attack was believed to be connected to the officer's work, police spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov said.

Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in southern Russia, sees almost daily violence, with many of the militants inspired by or affiliated with Islamist separatists in neighboring Chechnya. Some attacks also are believed to be motivated by a desire for revenge against police, accused of using heavy-handed tactics in their efforts to crack down on Islamic extremism.

A convoy of elite police troops was attacked while traveling to a mountainous region Saturday and 12 were wounded in a two-hour firefight, Gasanov said. It was unclear whether any of the attackers were wounded.

In Chechnya, three unknown men armed with Kalashnikovs ambushed a police patrol early Sunday in Grozny, the capital, and killed two officers, police spokesman Magomed Deniyev said.


Associated Press writer Sergei Venyavsky in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, contributed to this report.