CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — A Tajikistan national who fatally shot two security officers at Moldova’s main international airport is wanted in his native country in relation to the kidnapping of a Tajik bank official, authorities said. The General Prosecutor’s Office of Tajikistan named the assailant as Rustam Ashurov and alleged he was a member of
CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — A Tajikistan national who fatally shot two security officers at Moldova’s main international airport is wanted in his native country in relation to the kidnapping of a Tajik bank official, authorities said.
The General Prosecutor’s Office of Tajikistan named the assailant as Rustam Ashurov and alleged he was a member of an “organized criminal group” that kidnapped the deputy chairman of a bank in Dushanbe, the Central Asian country’s capital, on June 23.
The prosecutor’s office said Ashurov, 43, a resident of Dushanbe, fled to Moldova via Turkey after a criminal investigation was launched “with the aim of going into hiding in EU countries.”
After arriving at Chisinau International Airport on Friday, he was denied entry into the country and grabbed a guard’s weapon as he was being escorted away by officials, according to authorities. He fatally shot two security officers. One traveler was also wounded in the attack.
Ashurov sustained serious injuries and was hospitalized after special forces intervened to subdue him, Moldova’s acting prosecutor general, Ion Munteanu, said after the incident. He told reporters Saturday that his office filed a criminal case for “murder with aggravating circumstances” and said, “no case (has been) initiated for terrorism.”
“The reason for the detention at the border was that the person could not clearly explain the reason for arrival and the purpose of being in the territory of the Republic of Moldova,” Munteanu said, adding that the General Prosecutor’s Office “is in continuous discussions” with authorities in Tajikistan.
Moldova’s president, Maia Sandu, identified the people killed Friday as a border police officer and an airport security employee.
The head of Moldova’s police, Viorel Cernauteanu, told reporters Saturday that “police exchanged fire with the attacker” during the incident, which unfolded at 5:13 p.m. local time
Asked Friday if Ashurov had connections to Russian mercenary group Wagner, Cernauteanu said there was no evidence that the suspect “has relationships with military or paramilitary structures” and he was not listed in any international search system.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, neighboring Moldova — a country with a population of about 2.6 million people, and a European Union candidate since June 2022 — has faced a long list of crises.
They included an acute winter energy crisis after Russia dramatically reduced gas supplies and recurring anti-government protests organized by a now-outlawed Russia-friendly political party against the ruling pro-Western administration.
The Associated Press