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August 01, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — Five defendants at a Moscow courthouse attacked their guards in a bungled escape attempt, leading to a shootout that killed three people and wounded five others, officials said Tuesday. Russia’s Investigative Committee said the attempted getaway started while the five handcuffed men were being escorted by two guards in an elevator at the Moscow Regional Court.

One tried to strangle a guard before the defendants seized the guards’ weapons and the group managed to escape, the investigative committee said. Three of the defendants were killed and two wounded in a shootout with the court’s guards. Three guards were injured and taken to hospital, the committee said.

The prosecutor’s office for the Moscow region said it was looking into the incident to see if the guards had violated the procedure for escorting defendants. Authorities said the incident took place before a hearing for a gang of nine who are suspected of killing more than a dozen motorists.

Russia media dubbed the accused “the Grand Theft Auto gang” after the violent video game. The men on trial are accused of terrorizing Moscow motorists for months in 2014. Prosecutors said the gang members were placing spikes on roads, forcing the motorists out of their vehicles and shooting them dead.

The nine men, all from Central Asia, are charged with 17 murders and two attempted murders.

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