Three people 'shot dead' at intelligence agency office in Moscow - THE NEW DAWN ONLINE

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Three people 'shot dead' at intelligence agency office in Moscow


Three people have been reportedly shot dead after an unidentified gunman opened fire on the office of the Federal Security Service, the FSB, Russia’s main intelligence agency, in the heart of Moscow.

According to Russian media reports, the man attacked the reception of the Lubyanka building, home to the FSB and its communist-era predecessor the KGB. The victims were described as federal security guards.

The assailant reportedly fled and barricaded himself in a neighbouring building. The security services then shot him dead. They were seeking to establish his identity, the news service Interfax reported.

Earlier, a major security operation was launched as heavy gunfire from automatic weapons rang out across the square and the surrounding area. Russian special forces with automatic weapons rushed to the scene. Video showed them running along the pavement.

Several people were wounded in the incident. The number of injured is unclear. Five ambulances were seen driving from the Lubyanka, which is located in the centre of Moscow, not far from Red Square. Officers reportedly told shoppers to get off the streets “in case of stray bullets”.

It is unclear what the attacker’s motive might have been, or whether he was acting alone.

The shootings took place on the same day as one of the Kremlin’s showpiece events of the year – the annual press conference by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, screened live across the country.

Putin was FSB chief before becoming prime minister and then president. It is Russia’s most powerful domestic spy agency. It has previously been the target of attacks, including a suicide bombing by Islamist terrorists on the nearby metro station.

In 2015 the performance artist Pyotr Pavelensky set fire to the wooden doors of the building. He said he was protesting against the FSB’s “unending terror” and its power over 146 million citizens.

The FSB building, which takes up an entire city block, was used by the KGB and its Soviet predecessors for interrogations and detaining opponents. During the Stalin era thousands of prisoners were shot in its basement.

In 1991 protesters pulled down a statue to Felix Dzerzhinsky – the founder of Lenin’s secret police – from Lubyanka’s square.

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