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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Hunts for Police Official's Killers

Police in Moscow's Yasenevo district are hunting the killers of their chief of criminal investigations in what officials said is the capital's first police murder of the year.

Eduard Mastiyev, 33, was shot by unidentified attackers near his car Monday evening as he was leaving his office on Vilnyusskaya Ulitsa in southwestern Moscow. He died instantly from multiple bullet wounds.

"As yet, we have found no motives for the crime," said Alexander Chumankov, head of the press office of the city's police department. "But we are looking into the matter, and taking steps to find the perpetrators of this terrible crime."

Chumankov said police had activated a tactic called "Operation Siren" to track down the attackers.

"Siren involves extreme measures to locate and detain criminals, but I am not at liberty to disclose more than that," he said, adding that security was being stepped up in the Yasenevo district.

According to the city police department, seven police officers were murdered in Moscow in 1997. Officials refused to comment on whether any of those murders had been solved.

Police are also struggling to solve a string of high-profile murders of bankers and business officials in the city. The latest was last week's shooting of the manager of the Rossiya Hotel.

"It seems to be a dangerous time to be a policeman in Moscow," said Mark Galeotti, director of the Organized Russian and Euro-Asian Crime Research Unit at Keele University in Britain.

Police officers tend to have a tacit understanding with the local mafia that allows both groups to exist side by side, he said.

"There are three reasons why a senior police officer might be murdered," Galeotti said. "He is too honest, he is too corrupt, or there is a shifting in the balance of power [between the local police and the mafia] which creates a turf war."

Meanwhile, in the Far East town of Khabarovsk, two young traffic officers were killed after stopping a man who was found to be driving a car without proper documents, Itar-Tass reported Tuesday.

The man opened fire at the officers with a pistol as they were trying to impound the car. The gunman escaped.