Russian soldier flees from the air base after killing three with axe and rifle.

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A Russian soldier is on the run after killing three people early Monday morning at a military airport near the southwestern city of Voronezh.

The soldier – identified by military officials as Private Anton Makarov – killed one officer and two others in a skirmish at the Baltimore air base near Voronezh on Monday, the AFP reported.

The Russian investigative committee, which investigates serious crimes, issued a statement detailing the incident: “In order to obtain a service weapon, Makarov killed an officer with an axe,” the committee said.

As soon as he was in possession of the weapon, he shot his comrades, killed two other soldiers and wounded one before he could escape. The authorities are currently trying to arrest Makarov, the AFP reported. Investigators said he had fled the scene, although Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in initial reports stated that the gunman had barricaded himself in the base.

RFE/RL brought a statement from the press service of the Western Military District that said: “A soldier on duty … attacked officers who had come to check the duty shift, took a weapon from one of the officers and fled the compound. Three soldiers suffered fatal injuries as a result of the attack.

In the statement issued by the Western Military District, it was added that “the commanders of the military unit are working in cooperation with law enforcement agencies to track down and apprehend the assailant.

Doctors at a military hospital in Voronezh said the wounded soldier was being treated there and was in intensive care, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.

An anonymous source told the Interfax news agency that the altercation took place during an inspection. The soldier “grabbed a handgun” from the officer’s holster and fired, Interfax said. The killed officer was a major, according to AFP.

Shootings at Russian military bases are not uncommon. A combination of conscription and a culture of bullying and harassment has led to similar incidents in the past. Guard dogs have been pushing for reforms of the brutal harassment culture in recent years, which AFP says has improved the situation.

But such incidents still occur. Last October, for example, Private Ramil Shamsutdinov shot eight comrades and wounded two others at a base in Siberia. Two of the eight dead were officers.

Shamsutdinov opened fire immediately after receiving an AK74 service rifle. A Spetsnaz special forces team responded within minutes. Shamsutdinov surrendered to them without resistance.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said that Shamsutdinov had suffered a nervous breakdown, but the soldier’s father blamed an abusive harassment culture maintained by officers and fellow soldiers. He said that Shamsutdinov did not regret his actions, he claimed: “Either they kill me or I kill them”.

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