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Gunman kills six people with hunting rifle in Russia

Investigators inspect the body of a victim killed by a gunman in Belgorod, April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Andrei Kaksuslov
Investigators inspect the body of a victim killed by a gunman in Belgorod, April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Andrei Kaksuslov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A man shot dead six people, including two schoolgirls, with a rifle after robbing a hunting shop in the western Russian city of Belgorod on Monday, local officials said.

Police said their main suspect was a former convict in his thirties, adding that the attacker had fled in an expensive car.

The man, who was still on the run on Monday evening, first opened fire at the personnel of the shop and then also shot dead passersby outside in the city's main street, police said.

Amateur footage posted online showed corpses lying covered on the pavement and a crowd of onlookers gathered nearby in the centre of Belgorod, a city near the Ukrainian border about 650 km (400 miles) south of Moscow.

"Five people died on the spot" and another one died in hospital of gunshot wounds, the Belgorod municipality said on its website. Two girls, aged 14 and 16, were among the victims, the statement added.

Police released a picture of their main suspect - a brown-haired man who was released from prison in 2012 - and footage showing empty ammunition shells lying on the ground.

Belgorod, whose inhabitants were advised to stay indoors while the manhunt was continuing, planned to honor the victims with two days of mourning starting on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Anton Zverev, editing by Timothy Heritage and Mark Heinrich)

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