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POLICE SAY THEY WILL HAVE ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO LAY CHARGES WITHIN A WEEK

Chechens, Dagestanis behind shopping centre shootout

A SHOOTING at the Polus shopping centre in Bratislava on February 1 that left one man dead and two wounded has been blamed on a heated argument among a group of Chechens and Dagestanis resident in Slovakia and Austria.

A SHOOTING at the Polus shopping centre in Bratislava on February 1 that left one man dead and two wounded has been blamed on a heated argument among a group of Chechens and Dagestanis resident in Slovakia and Austria.

Witnesses said that a group of men in the Long Benn restaurant on the ground floor of the busy shopping centre began shouting loudly, and then started shooting at each other. Police later recovered a Scorpion machine gun and a bloody pistol from the premises.

As one man lay dead and another seriously injured, the men fled. One group flagged down a red jeep at random and demanded that the second injured man be taken to Ružinov hospital. The driver complied, but later reported the incident to police.

Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák said the shooting did not appear to be planned, as the nine men involved had arrived in their own cars and made no attempt to conceal themselves from mall cameras. "The conflict arose at the meeting. It's not like they came in stolen cars, did the hit, fled and then burned the cars, as we have seen in past cases," he said.

Kaliňák said the fact the men had been sitting by themselves in a section of the restaurant had probably contributed to their emotions getting out of hand. "If they had been sitting among civilians it probably wouldn't have happened," he said.

Police identified the dead man as Gabibulla Gassajniev (38), and the injured as his brother Nabiioulag. A third man, Kubran Gassajniev, apparently a sibling, has been listed as missing by Slovak police for over seven years.

Police are now looking for Usman A. (36) and Rustan A. (23), both of the Dagestan Republic in Russia. The former was resident in Slovakia, the latter in Russia. Only one man out of the group of nine has not been identified.

Although the police have said the shooting is not mafia-related, Nabiioulag's former business partner in the Zaman firm has ties to members of the Takáč organised crime group in Bratislava. Meanwhile, the Ku-Nak company, owned by Kurban and Gabibulla Gassajniev, is registered at Grösslingova 73 in Bratislava, the same address as a firm owned by Volodymyr Y. of Ukraine, who is currently on trial in Slovakia for ordering four gangland murders.

Detectives have secured more than 400 clues from the crime scene, and believe they will have enough information to lay charges within a week. Their investigation is being hampered by the fact that all of the men have refused to testify.

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