8 Die in Novgorod Gangland Massacre

A gangland mass murder in Novgorod that left eight people dead and two more wounded may have been the largest one-day criminal shooting in Russian history, police said Thursday.

According to Igor Kryuchkov of the Novgorod Oblast police, two masked men entered the Bandai cafe in downtown Novgorod late Monday and unloaded two full magazines from Kalashnikov machine guns into the dining area.

Apparently shooting indiscriminately throughout the room, they hit 10 people, eight men and two women, killing the men.

"Without a doubt, this is the largest mass killing in the Novgorod Oblast," Kryuchkov said. "From what we hear, it's also the largest one-day criminal shooting in Russia."

Kryuchkov said while the style of the killing left police in no doubt that it was gang-related, the seemingly random nature of the shooting puzzled police.

"From what we understand, they fired at people from different tables who had nothing to do with one another," he said. "It doesn't gibe with our experience with such murders."

However, he added that police were nonetheless inclined to believe that the killers did not choose their victims at random. "We feel that once we investigate this, we'll find that the victims were all connected somehow," he said.

Although Russia has recorded as many or more serial murders than the United States in recent times, there have been relatively few mass killings.

According to Andrei Tkachenko of the Serbsky Institute of Criminal Psychiatry, there are several reasons why there are so few one-day killers in Russia.

"The United States, and to a lesser degree Europe, are essentially media-based cultures. Mass killers there are invariably interested in getting attention and communicating their anger to society," he said. "In Russia, not only is the celebrity phenomenon not so rampant, but there is no tradition of individuals taking matters into their own hands. A violent individual is less likely to want to make a splash."