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Cops Hunt Gunmen Targeting Buses

The window of a Moscow tourist bus in which the outer glass was shattered by a bullet fired Monday by an unknown assailant. NTV

Drivers are furious and police are searching for suspects after several buses were sprayed with compressed air gun fire this week, leaving windows shattered and a passenger injured.

Since January, at least 64 buses have been targeted in similar instances. Compressed air guns with a calibre less than 4.5 millimeters do not require a license to possess.

In the latest incident, a bus headed to pick up Italian tourists was sprayed with pellets from a pneumatic pistol on Monday, the state-run television network NTV reported.

Police chief Anatoly Yakunin has assembled a special investigation team made up of officers from the head department as well as precincts where such shootings have occurred.

In Moscow's Bus Depot No. 10, which serves the city's east and southeast, 57 buses have been attacked this year, the depot's director told NTV.

For shootings where no one was hurt, the assailants could face vandalism and hooliganism charges, which respectively carry maximum punishments of three and seven years in prison.

In December 2010, then-President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law banning possession of loaded pneumatic guns outside homes and shooting ranges.

Higher-calibre air guns and those with more than 7.5 joules of power are considered lethal and require a license and registration.

Under the 2010 law, any Russian citizen above 18 years of age can apply for a license to purchase such weapons but to do so must undergo a police-supervised training course and a medical examination as well as own a safe to properly store the weapons.

On Saturday, two intermunicipal buses, one traveling from Cheboksary and the other awaiting passengers headed to the Ivanonovo region, were shot on Shchyolkovskoye Shosse in eastern Moscow. One city bus was also shot that day near the Tushinskaya metro station, in the city's northwest, Interfax reported Monday.

On Friday, a city bus was attacked on Ulitsa Vilisa Latsisa in the city's northwest, police reported.

On Thursday, three buses from Depot No. 15 and a private bus were shot near the 74th-kilometer mark of the Moscow Ring Road.

On Wednesday, a trolleybus was shot on Ulitsa Narodnogo Opolcheniya in the city's northwest. One passenger was injured as shards of glass burst from a broken window.

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