l gangs from Slovakia, Ukraine, Yugoslavia and Russia. Police statistics show 111 murders were committed in Slovakia during the first nine months of this year, of which 67 have so far been solved. Many of the unsolved murders are linked by police to gangsterism. In the first nine months of this year, 12 people were killed and 16 injured in bomb attacks, compared to five dead and four injured in the whole of 1996. During this period the police registered 68 bombings and nine other explosions. Most attacks, 13, occurred in the capital Bratislava though the death toll was highest in the central town of Banska Bystrica where five people have died this year. Slovakia`s opposition claims that responsibility for the rise in violent crime lies squarely with the government. Interior minister Gustáv Krajči said the criminal situation in Slovakia in general had not yet reached the catastrophic state of some other post-communist countries. More controversially, the opposition charges that law enforcement has been impaired because Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar`s government has sought to subordinate the police to politics. "The ministry of the interior, which is a political structure, is increasingly encroaching on the authority of independent professional structures of the police," Peter Vačok, a former senior police detective and now an adviser to the opposition Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), said recently. The Interior Ministry has rejected the criticism, saying it is unfounded and politically motivated. Vačok, one of Slovakia`s leading criminal investigators, resigned from the police two years ago after he had become the second investigator to be taken off the case of the kidnapping of Michal Kováč Junior, the son of the Slovak president. President Kováč has attributed the kidnapping to a political feud between himself and Mečiar and accused the Slovak secret service (SIS) of organising it. Both Vačok and his predecessor, Jaroslav Šimunič, were sacked from the case after their inquiries led them to suspect involvement in the abduction of the SIS headed by Ivan Lexa, a close Mečiar associate. A third investigator dropped the case for lack of evidence. Mečiar and Lexa have repeatedly and vigorously rejected all allegations of SIS involvement in the kidnapping. The government has also denied any political implications in the death in a car bombing of a key witness in the case six months after the kidnapping. Vačok said political abuse of the SIS and its inappropriate power over the police resulted from the one-party parliamentary supervision of the secret services. In October, the ruling coalition in parliament again rejected all the opposition nominees for membership in committees supervising the SIS and military intelligence. The European Union has urged opposition participation in these committees as a sign of democratisation in Slovakia that could make the country suitable for talks on admission to the EU.