Russia arrests anti-police attackers in deadly siege

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Two men died in a bloody siege in Far Eastern Russia Friday as police arrested a gang of youths whose deadly attacks on policemen gripped the public imagination, investigators said.

The gang began its hate campaign in the farflung region bordering China by killing a policeman in February in the regional capital of Vladivostok, investigators said.

The group of six youths went on to stab to death another policeman and shoot and wound five more.

After a massive manhunt, police finally captured the gang Friday in the small town of Ussuriisk in a siege during which two members died and the others gave themselves up.

The attacks won a surprising amount of public sympathy in a country where police are widely distrusted for trigger-happy violent attacks and systemic corruption.

Russian media compared the gang to the wartime partisans and to a band of Robin Hood, the medieval outlaw of English folklore who robbed the rich and gave to the poor.

The father of an 18-year-old gang member said that the members went on the rampage in reaction to police abuse.

"They are all boys who have suffered at the hands of the police," Vladimir Savchenko said Wednesday in a radio interview with the Russian News Service.

Reports also linked several gang members to ultra-nationalist movements.

Investigators responded to the public sympathy with an angry statement.

The gang members were "no fighters for justice, as some media call them," officials said Friday.

"These people have no idea of morality. They do not understand the concept of law. They commit crimes not for the sake of an idea but just to horrify society."

More than 150 police officers had been deployed to search for the gang in the densely wooded region, using helicopters and armoured vehicles.

© 2010 AFP

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