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Minsk Hostage Taker Killed

Minsk, June 11 (RFE/RL) -- Belarussian officials say that a man killed today by a police anti-terrorist unit after taking hostages in central Minsk was mentally unstable.

The kidnapper, identified as Aleksandr Zyulikov, took more than a dozen children and two teachers hostage at a kindergarten.

Belarus deputy interior minister, Ivan Yurkin, said Zyulikov had been hospitalized twice in a psychiatric hospital. Yurkin said the man's action today was to protest what he claimed was the illegal action by doctors and authorities who ordered his hospitalization in the late 1970s.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted a kindergarten teacher, Natalya Sakina, as saying the man had broken into the kindergarten early in the morning, claiming he had a bomb inside a small suitcase he was carrying. Sakina said the man ordered the children, aged between four and five, and their teacher to line up against the wall. The man then demanded talks with police and other authorities.

The attacker allowed officials and police to enter the room where he was holding the hostages. Minsk Police Chief Boris Tarletsky said that during talks, an anti-terrorist unit managed to lead the children out of the room. Tarletsky said the kidnapper was killed with two shots to the head after security agents determined he had an explosive device inside his suitcase.