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Policeman Accused of Killing 3 in Dagestan

Investigators on Monday opened a criminal case against a policeman accused of killing three minivan drivers in a cafe in the capital of the Dagestan republic.

The policeman, who is suspected of shooting dead the three cafe-goers late Sunday in central Makhachkala, has denied his guilt, saying he shot at the men out of fear for his own safety. The men were reportedly drunk at the time.

"There's no evidence that the killing was carried out in self defense," an unidentified spokesperson from the republic's Investigative Committee told Interfax.

"The main version of events [we are considering] is that the policeman started shooting during a quarrel that unexpectedly erupted due to bad blood [between the policeman and minivan drivers]," the spokesperson said.

The policeman faces up to life imprisonment on charges of murdering two or more people. A local police source told Interfax that the suspect's commanding officer could also be reprimanded for his subordinate's actions.

A silver medallist at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics was wounded on Sunday after accidentally shooting himself in the stomach while relaxing at his home in Makhachkala, Interfax reported.

An unidentified employee at Dagestan's Orthopedic Wounds Clinic told the news agency that doctors had successfully operated on Bakhtiyar Akhmedov, a Russian freestyle wrestling ace, and that his life wasn't in danger.

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