A rare and major incident has occurred at a Russian military base in far eastern Siberia. A Russian soldier has shot dead eight of his fellow servicemen in an apparent mass killing rampage.
According to official statements in TASS, two among the dead are officers and an additional two survived with gunshot wounds but remain in critical condition. The Defense Ministry of Russia on Friday said it happened in the Chita Region during a "changing of the guard" and the shooter is in custody, which local and international reports are describing may have suffered significant mental health problems.
"At 6:20 p.m. local time on October 25, a serviceman from the repair and maintenance base stationed on the territory of the Trans-Baikal Region opened fire on his fellow servicemen from his service firearm during a changing of the guard," the ministry described in a statement.
"As a result, eight servicemen were killed on the spot while two others received wounds of various severity," the statement said.
Though exact details are still subject of a murder investigation overseen by the Russian military, Russian media reports said the victims appeared targeted by gunshots to the head, which is likely why the death toll is so high.
Russian officials quickly suggested a nervous breakdown drove the random killing spree: "Based on the preliminary data from the scene of the incident, the soldier's actions could have been caused by a nervous breakdown over personal circumstances unrelated to his military service," the ministry's statement reads.
The base is in the village of Gorny, not far from the city of Chita, in a region of the Far East that is famous as a place of exile in Tsarist and Soviet times.