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Latvia: Police End Extremists' Church Occupation

Riga, 17 November 2000 (RFE/RL) - Latvian police have arrested three members of a small, extremist Russian communist group that had barricaded themselves inside St. Peter's Church in Riga and threatened to blow it up. RFE/RL's correspondent at the scene says police now are searching the church for explosives. Our correspondent says the group is known to police but has not previously engaged in severe violence.

The radicals, calling themselves National Bolsheviks, had threatened earlier to set off bombs in advance of Latvian Independence Day tomorrow. They are avowed opponents of Latvia's separation from Russia.

After entering the church overnight, they blockaded themselves inside and hung a flag. They called for four of their members detained by police earlier in the week to be freed. They also called for the release of two ex-KGB members imprisoned in Latvia for genocide.