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Gun with swastika killed Senegal student in Russia

Written by: Staff
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ST PETERSBURG, Russia, Apr 7 (Reuters) A Senegalese student was shot dead by a gun emblazoned with a Nazi swastika today as he came out of a night club in Russia's second city, St Petersburg.

''Six of us were going home together when there was a shot from behind us. One of us turned round and saw a man with a gun.

One of us collapsed and the rest of us were frightened and went to the police,'' Teo, a student from Cameroon, told Reuters.

''When we returned he was dead,'' he said, declining to give his second name.

Police, who found a pump-action shotgun bearing the swastika near the scene, have launched an investigation.

''We believe this was racially motivated,'' St Petersburg deputy prosecutor Andrei Lavrenko told Russian television.

Attacks on immigrants and foreign students have become increasingly common in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, especially in St Petersburg, the home town of President Vladimir Putin.

They are mostly carried out by young men attracted to extreme right-wing views.

Putin has ordered police to crack down on racist violence and on Friday the Foreign Ministry reacted quickly, issuing a statement offering condolences to the victim's friends and family.

The eyes of the world will be on St Petersburg in July when it hosts world leaders for the Group of Eight (G8) summit.

THINGS DON'T GET WORSE The dead man's friend believed the gunman was lying in wait.

''They know a group of us go from the club to the metro every week. He got ready, stood there and waited until we came out. I am afraid. I don't know whether to stay here or not,'' Teo said.

Russia is a popular place for students from the developing world as it offers a good standard of education at a fraction of the price charged by Western universities.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union welcomed students from African states sympathetic to communism. But activists say politicians exploiting Russian nationalism to win votes have stirred up racial attacks.

Last week, a St Petersburg court acquitted a teenager accused of the racially motivated murder of a nine-year-old Tajik girl but found him guilty on a separate charge of hooliganism and sentenced him to 5-1/2 years in jail.

Russia was also shocked earlier this year when a young man ran amok in a Moscow synagogue, shouting ''Hail Hitler'' and stabbing worshippers at random.

REUTERS SHR RN1557

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