08/03/1998 17:12:39 Russians told "shoot to kill" Arctic jailbreakers
MOSCOW, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Police and troops hunting three armed fugitives in
one of the remotest areas of Russia's Arctic coast were ordered to shoot them on
sight on Monday, three days after the jailbreak gang fought gunbattles with
RIA news agency said fog had lifted after two days, allowing helicopters to
be brought back into the deadly chase at Cape Schmidt, on the bleak north coast
of the Chukotka peninsula, facing Alaska and nine time zones east of Moscow.
The heavily armed escapees, two conscript soldiers facing murder charges and
a local man, may be running out of food, the agency said, and so could be
tempted back towards one of the tiny settlements around the desolate cape.
Two other fugitives were killed and six recaptured on Friday but poor
weather closed in, preventing helicopters from flying and allowing the three
survivors to evade detection.
Six conscripts and five civilians had fled their cells early on Friday,
killing a guard and seizing 23 Kalashnikov assault rifles, a machinegun and
other weapons and ammunition.
After stealing two army vehicles and raiding a local store for liquor, they
were finally run to ground by security forces using helicopter gunships near the
settlement of Leninsky, where fighting broke out. Two policemen and two of the
fugitives were killed and six others, some of them wounded, were arrested.
Prospects for the three remaining escapees looked grim.
The nearest settlement of any size, the regional capital Anadyr with a
population of under 20,000, is 500 km (300 miles) away. There are few roads and
they are easily guarded.
The wilderness is so forbidding that in the days when the region held gulag
labour camps, prisoners were often not fenced in as flight meant virtually