Iranian killed in racist attack in Moscow -police

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MOSCOW, Sep 21 (Reuters) A young Iranian man stabbed to death in an upmarket, central part of Moscow on Sunday was the victim of a racist attack, Russian police said today.

Ahmadreza Khorrami, 19, was stabbed in the heart and wrist at around 7 p.m. on September 16 while walking near the Iranian embassy compound in Moscow. There were no witnesses and he later bled to death in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

''There are specific signs that this was a crime committed on racist grounds,'' RIA-Novosti news agency quoted a Moscow police detective representative as saying.

Khorami was the son of an embassy interpreter and a student at the Moscow Energy Institute. Police had initially suspected the murder was racially motivated, as neither money nor a laptop computer were taken during the assault.

''We have suspects, but so far no one has been detained,'' police told RIA-Novosti.

In the past few years hundreds of non-Russians, mainly dark-skinned guestworkers from former Soviet Republics, have been attacked by racists across Russia.

Sova, a Russian NGO that tracks racist and skinhead violence, said 351 racially-motivated attacks and 39 murders happened in Russia in the first half of 2007.

''That's an underreported number by about 30 per cent, because it's so hard to check these facts that we regularly discard what we can't prove,'' said Galina Kozhevnikova of Sova.

Iranian Foreign Ministry officials in Tehran summoned the Russian ambassador on Sunday night to protest, and called on Russian authorities to investigate the case, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported.

REUTERS ARB AS1527

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