Russian soldier kills 8 in gun attack at Siberian army base

Updated October 26, 2019

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This undated photo shows Ramil Shamsutdinov, a soldier who has gone on a shooting spree in Siberia on Friday, October 25, 2019 at a military base in the town of Gorny in the Baikal Lake region north of the border with Mongolia. — AP
This undated photo shows Ramil Shamsutdinov, a soldier who has gone on a shooting spree in Siberia on Friday, October 25, 2019 at a military base in the town of Gorny in the Baikal Lake region north of the border with Mongolia. — AP

MOSCOW: A Russian soldier on Friday opened fire on troops at a Siberian military base, killing eight and injuring two, officials said, blaming the attack on a possible "nervous breakdown".

The incident took place at an army base in the Chita region in eastern Siberia during a change of guard.

“The serviceman who opened fire has been detained,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said the shooter was a conscript named Ramil Shamsutdinov and launched a murder case.

The base is located in the town of Gorny which is closed to all outsiders without a special permit and is managed by the Ministry of Defence directorate responsible for maintaining Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Officials claimed the incident was not work related.

“The actions of the serviceman could be the result of a nervous breakdown caused by personal circumstances not connected to his military duty,” the defence ministry said, quoted by Russian news agencies. The wounded were hospitalised, the ministry said.

Andrei Kurochkin, the deputy chairman of soldiers rights organisation Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, said that in general such cases of mass murder are the result of abuse and total desperation.

“Commanders just close their eyes to cases of systematic bullying,” he said.

Senior officers leave victims with no means of complaining by confiscating their phones and overseeing all conversations with relatives, he said.

“They say it’s to protect state secrets, but in reality that’s the last priority,” he said.

When such cases are probed, “investigators come to the base and interview soldiers who have already been briefed on what to say,” Kurochkin said.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2019