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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Two Killed by Mob Of Angry Skinheads

Hundreds of skinheads brandishing iron bars rampaged through Moscow market stalls run by traders from southern Russia and the Caucasus on Tuesday night, killing two people, news reports said.

About 300 young people charged through a market outside Tsaritsyno metro station in southern Moscow, attacking the dark-skinned vendors there. Afterward, a large group of skinheads headed to the Sevastopol hotel near Kakhovskaya metro station, where Moscow's Afghan community is based, to continue the violence.

Media reports said one person was killed during the raids and another died in a hospital Wednesday morning. Twenty-two people were injured.

Police detained 26 people and went on high alert to prevent new outbreaks of violence, officials said Wednesday, amid fears that the victims' relatives may try to retaliate.

Moscow city prosecutor Mikhail Avdyukov set up a special task force to "investigate the murders and identify those who organized and inspired the criminal action," a spokesman said, according to Interfax. Avdyukov appointed his first deputy, Anatoly Zuyev, to oversee the probe.

It was unclear what prompted the attacks. Interfax said they were organized by members of the ultranationalist Russian National Unity party, a paramilitary group that wears insignia similar to a Nazi swastika.

After police arrived at Tsaritsyno and fired warning shots in the air, the attackers fled, taking the metro to the Kashirskaya station, where they split into two groups, Interfax reported. The larger group, consisting of 100-150 people, headed to Kakhovskaya metro station, while the rest left in the direction of Krasnogvardeiskaya station, according to Interfax.

At Kakhovskaya, the youths left the metro, attacking passers-by outside the Sevastopol hotel and smashing parked cars, Interfax reported. Police were again required to fire in the air.

A group of around 200 young men, armed with iron bars, attacked local Afghan workers, killing one and injuring twelve, according to Farouk Farda, the editor of a local Afghan newspaper based in the hotel.

"All Afghans are in shock," Farda said. "There's such a situation in Afghanistan and [now] there's such a situation here."

An RTR reporter quoted witnesses at Tsaritsyno as saying rioters beat bystanders indiscriminately. Some shouted: "Russians always first!" while others chanted slogans supporting Moscow's Lokomotiv soccer team, which beat Real Madrid in a match in the Russian capital Tuesday night. NTV television showed many shaven-headed youths behind bars in detention rooms.

RTR showed the body of one man, his head covered in blood, on the pavement outside the metro station in Tsaritsyno, a run-down district dotted with crumbling tower blocks. Shards of glass were strewn outside kiosks, along with abandoned iron bars.

Policemen told television stations they had fired into the air to keep the rioters at bay.

"We got out of our car and saw a man from the Caucasus region lying on the ground, while three men were beating him," officer Denis Yakovlev told RTR.

"When we detained them the crowds saw us and went for us, so we had to shoot into the air. That calmed some of them down, but made others more aggressive. Many ran for the metro."

Many market stalls in the capital are run by traders from the south of Russia and neighboring ex-Soviet states, particularly Azerbaijan.

Right-wingers smashed up stalls at another market in south Moscow last April to mark Adolf Hitler's birthday, and five people were charged.

President Vladimir Putin issued a call for a crackdown on racists at the time of last April's attack, one of a series of incidents on the increase in Russia.

Police identified those killed Tuesday as Vardan Kulidzanyan, 37, and Kumar Sarma Provid, 35.

(Reuters, AP, MT)