MOSCOW: A Russian soldier suspected of killing three servicemen using an axe and a gun at a military base has been detained after a massive manhunt, officials said.

The shooting — the second at a military base in a year — took place at an airfield near the city of Voronezh where activists say army conscripts have been subjected to humiliating hazing.

Authorities however insist that bullying rituals that plagued the military in the 1990s have been rooted out in the Russian army.

Investigators said that a 20-year-old soldier identified as private Anton Makarov attacked an officer at the Baltimore military airfield near the city of Voronezh at 5:30 am (0230 GMT).

Voronezh is more than 500 kilometres south of Moscow.

“In order to get hold of a service weapon Makarov killed an officer with an axe,” the Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes, said in a statement.

He then started shooting his fellow servicemen, killing two and wounding one, the statement said.

He was detained following a manhunt and was being interrogated.

More than 100 members of the national guard as well as drones took part in the search operation, a spokesman said.

An unidentified source told the Interfax news agency that the shooting started when an altercation broke out between the soldier and an officer during an inspection.

The soldier “grabbed a handgun” from the officer’s holster and fired, Interfax reported.

Russia’s Western Military District however denied that a conflict had taken place.

Rights activists said that Makarov was a victim of hazing, which they claim is still common in the army.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2020

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