Russia arrests teens over village massacre: official

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Russia has arrested four young people, including two teenagers, over the massacre of 12 people in a house in sleepy farming village that has shocked the country, officials said Thursday.

Most of the victims -- who included four children -- were killed by multiple stabbing, although one was found dead from toxic gas inhalation and another by strangling.

Investigators have been seeking answers over the motives for the slaughter last week in the otherwise quiet village of Kushchevskaya in the southern Krasnodar region, with a prominent agricultural executive among the victims.

Teenagers Igor Maidanyuk, born in 1994, and Vyacheslav Skachedub, born in 1993, were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the crime, the investigative committee of prosecutors said in a statement.

Also arrested were Alexei Gurov, born in 1986 and his brother Yevgeny, born in 1990.

"The suspects behaved aggressively at the moment of arrest but could not offer serious resistance," the committee said in a statement. It said drugs and incriminating evidence had been found at the suspects' homes.

All those arrested are suspected of being members of a criminal group from the nearby city of Rostov-on-Don.

One of the dead, identified as Vladimir Mironenko, was the finance director at leading Russian agricultural firm Aston and there has been speculation the killings could have been linked to his business activities.

Investigators so far have given no concrete indications over the motive, saying only that it could have involved "personal hostility to one of the dead".

The Krasnodar region lies just northwest of Russia's troubled Caucasus mountains which has been plagued by Islamist militant violence. It includes the Black Sea city of Sochi, which is to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

But officials have so far ruled out terror or ethnic conflict as a cause of the killings.

© 2010 AFP

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