A major police hunt is under way in Kyrgyzstan to find the killers of the country's anti-corruption chief who was shot dead as he drove in the capital.
Col Chynybek Aliyev was shot 20 times when he stopped at traffic lights.
He led the division that investigates corruption and organized crime, and was leading an inquiry into several recent contract killings.
Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished former Soviet republic, lies on major heroin, opium and weapons smuggling routes.
A vehicle pulled up alongside Col Aliyev's car in the center of Bishkek and some 20 bullets were fired at him, officials said.
He died on the spot but his killers escaped.
Col Aliyev had been vigorously pursuing suspects involved in a series of major contract killings in the last two months, interior ministry spokesman Dzholdoshbek Buzurmankulov said.
The colonel's murder was a declaration of war by criminals on the ministry, he said.
"This was obviously intended to frighten the police and show that the criminals are not giving up, but if they don't surrender we will kill them," Mr Buzurmankulov told reporters.
Col Aliyev is the most senior figure to be killed like this in many years and his murder has shocked residents of the normally sleepy Kyrgyz capital, reports one of the BBC's correspondents in the region, Ian MacWilliam.
Organized crime in Kyrgyzstan is increasingly involved in the lucrative drugs trade.
The country is on major smuggling routes for Afghan heroin and opium bound for Europe.
BBC, May 05, 2005