• AFP-JIJI

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Russian media on Friday said a man who had opened fire near the headquarters of the security service in central Moscow, killing one and wounding five, was a 39-year-old from a nearby town.

There has been no official confirmation of the identity of the attacker shot by security forces after the exchange of fire on Thursday evening, but Russian media named him as a former security guard who practiced shooting as a hobby and lived in the town of Podolsk, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Moscow.

Numerous channels on the Telegram messenger service published a photo of the dead attacker, a bearded man in glasses with his face bloodied.

The tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda and Ren TV channel reported that the alleged attacker had an arsenal of seven guns that he owned legally, citing an investigator.

The FSB, a successor to the KGB, has given little information on the lone gunman who was shot dead after the attack on Bolshaya Lubyanka street outside the FSB’s headquarters and close to a busy shopping area in the heart of the Russian capital.

The Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes, said one officer from the security service was killed and five people, including one civilian, were being treated for injuries.

Russia has not said the shooting was terror-related and has opened a probe only into attacks on law enforcement officials.

The attacker took part in marksmanship competitions and an instructor at his gun club, Oleg Solovich, told Komsomolskaya Pravda he owned weapons legally but “shot badly” and never took off his dark hooded coat.

“He was normal to talk to,” Solovich said, adding that he had been a certified gun owner for more than five years, and “that means the state had full confidence in him.”

The paper interviewed the mother of the man, who said that he had been a security guard but had recently stopped working and “used to talk on the phone to some Arabs,” while she said she did not understand their conversation in English.

It published a photograph of the modest five-storey block where the attacker lived as investigators carried out a search there.

The attack took place in the early evening as people were going home from work or sat in cafes.

Footage shot by passers-by showed people running in panic, and witnesses told AFP that they took shelter in cafe back rooms as shots rang out.

The motives behind the shooting remained unclear.

It came on the Day of Military Counter-Intelligence, a professional holiday, and on the eve of Friday’s Day of Security Service.

At the time of the attack, President Vladimir Putin, a former head of the FSB and KGB agent, was taking part in a celebratory event for security services. Hours earlier, he held a marathon annual press conference in central Moscow.

Russia has in the last few years been hit by a spate of attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, often hailing from the restive Northern Caucasus region.

A Russian court earlier this month sentenced 11 people to terms including life in prison after finding them guilty of a deadly bomb attack on the Saint Petersburg metro in 2017 that killed 15 people and wounded dozens more.

Last year, a 17-year-old anarchist blew himself up at the entrance of regional FSB headquarters in the northern city of Arkhangelsk.

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