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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Strangling Suspect Held

MOSCOW (MT) -- A 33-year-old man from a town near Moscow has been detained on suspicion of being connected to stranglings of 11 women in the capital over the past six weeks, police said Thursday.

So far, investigators have only found evidence to accuse the man of strangling one woman, whose body was found in the Losiny Ostrov park near the town of Korolyov, just outside Moscow, Moscow region police spokesman Kirill Kazantsev said.

But there was no evidence to link the suspect, detained earlier this week, to the killings of other women since July 1, Kazantsev said.

"It's too early to tell. The investigation is in progress," he said by telephone.

The suspect, a resident of the town of Shchyolkovo, has a criminal record, Kazantsev said.

Officials from the prosecutor's office in charge of the investigation could not be immediately reached for comment.

The killings, most of them in north and northeast Moscow, have unnerved residents, but police have tried to downplay the possibility of a serial killer, pointing to disparities between the killings.

Army Fire Kills 2

MOSCOW (AP) -- A fire and explosions that ripped through an army munitions storage site in the Far East killed two military officers and injured five others, media reported Thursday.

The blaze erupted in an area where armed artillery pieces were being stored at a military unit in the Birobidzhan region.

Two lieutenants were killed by explosions as they tried to drive trucks loaded with ammunition away from the fire, Itar-Tass and Interfax reported. Itar-Tass said three other military personnel were hospitalized and two received light injuries.

The blaze, which broke out late Wednesday, was extinguished several hours later on Thursday.

A private at the unit who was suspected causing the fire while trying to steal gasoline from the munitions depot was detained, Itar-Tass and Interfax reported, citing regional military prosecutors.

The reports did not explain how the alleged theft led to the fire.

Turkmen Vote in 2006?

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) -- Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov announced plans Thursday to hold a presidential vote in three or four years, a gesture aimed at silencing critics of his authoritarian rule and easing concerns that he would remain president for life.

Niyazov told a meeting of the People's Council, a hand-picked assembly of top officials and elders, that the election will be held in 2006 or in 2007. The president, who will turn 70 in 2010, said his decision was based on a constitutional clause barring anyone older than 70 from being president.

In 1999, Turkmenistan's parliament declared Niyazov president for life. But in 2001 Niyazov rejected the idea and said he intended to conduct presidential elections between 2008 and 2010.