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Monday February 3, 2014 MYT 8:00:15 PM
Monday February 3, 2014 MYT 8:00:15 PM
by ian bateson
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Moscow high-school student shot a teacher and a police officer dead and held more than 20 other students hostage in a classroom in a possible revenge attack on Monday, days before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics under tight security.
The student was disarmed and detained less than two hours after the shooting following negotiations aided by his father, Interfax news agency said. News agencies said he might have been seeking revenge over a conflict with a teacher.
Any such violence could rattle nerves at a time when athletes and spectators are arriving for the Sochi Games and the country is on high alert over an Islamist militant threat of violence.
State-run media tend to portray school attacks as a largely U.S. phenomenon and they are indeed rare in Russia.
However, separatist militants seized a school in the North Caucasus town of Beslan in 2004. More than 330 people, mostly children, were killed.
Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said the student may have suffered an "emotional breakdown" when he entered the school in northern Moscow with two of his father's rifles and shot a geography teacher several times.
"We were in the stairwell when we heard the man outside yelling to the police officer to open the door, and then we heard shooting," said Ivan Fodokin, 17, a student at School No. 263.
The midday shooting sent dozens of students scurrying into the street in subzero temperatures while a police helicopter landed in a snow-covered field outside and at least six ambulances rolled up to the scene.
The alleged assailant cocked one of his two rifles when a guard tried to stop him getting into the school and then went to a classroom full of 10th graders, the federal Investigative Committee said.
"On the way, the shooter wounded a teacher, who later died," it said in a statement.
It said the guard had managed to press an alarm button, bringing police to the school.
"When the police entered, the shooter opened fire toward them, wounding one and killing another."
The assailant had two rifles, both registered in his father's name, and fired at least 11 shots, state-run news agency RIA cited Markin as saying.
"The person who took 20 people and a teacher hostage is a student in the upper classes at the same school. He has been neutralised and all the students have been freed," Interior Ministry spokesman Andrei Pilipchuk told state TV.
"One policeman was fatally wounded during the operation and died in hospital, and a teacher at School No. 263 was also killed," he said. Police did not immediately identify the attacker or his victims.
There have been a handful of shootings at workplaces and public areas in Russia in recent years, but school shootings are virtually unheard of.
(Additional reporting by Thomas Grove, Vladimir Soldatkin and Maria Tsvetkova,; Writing by Steve Gutterman, editing by Elizabeth Piper and Ralph Boulton)
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