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Explosion and shooting at Estonian Defense Ministry

Published time: August 11, 2011 14:33
Edited time: August 12, 2011 16:39

Estonian Defense Ministry building hit by shooting

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A man armed with guns, grenades and even a small bomb occupied the Estonian Defense Ministry in Tallinn on Thursday and was killed by police during the siege operation. There were no other casualties.

The assailant burst into the building forcing the evacuation of all employees. Police cordoned off the area. According to the latest statements, two people were trapped in the building while it was being evacuated and were later freed.  

The man was said to be armed with a pistol packets of explosives. Authorities denied the man had committed suicide, as had been reported by some officials earlier on Thursday. The prosecutor's office also rejected earlier claims that the man had links with the armed forces.

The Estonian Prosecutor’s Office has identified the attacker as Karen Drambyan, 57. The Armenian-born man was a member of the Estonian United Left Party, which represents the Russian community in the country.

Estonian PM Andrus Ansip did not rule out that the attack could have been inspired by the recent massacre in Norway.

An eight-member special police taskforce entered the building at 4:42 pm local time. There were four shots fired inside the building, then a blast was heard followed by three more shots.

A second special police task force accompanied by three doctors entered the ministry building at 4:52 pm. Two rescue teams and a vehicle with bomb disposal experts are also at the scene.

The siege ended at 5.20 pm local time when a police spokesperson announced that"the attacker had been neutralized” and “no one else had been hurt."

Defense Minister Mart Laar was not present in the building at the time of the attack.

Such incidents are extremely rare in this small Baltic state of some 1.3 million people.