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Bomb Attacks Against Police, Officials In Russian City

OREL, Russia -- Officials in the western Russian city of Orel say they are concerned by recent attacks on a local police station and prosecutor's office, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Two Molotov cocktails were thrown into a window of police station No. 4 in Orel on July 19, starting a fire. The assailants also left papers printed with the phrase "Do like us, do better than us!" -- a saying from an East German children's television show that used to also be broadcast in the Soviet Union.

On July 16, a bomb exploded at 4 a.m. in the Orel prosecutor's office, causing significant damage. Officials say the bomb used was nearly identical to the device used in December 2009 to bomb the same building.

An investigation into the 2009 incident is still ongoing. Investigators say there could be several reasons for the recent attacks, one being an attempt by an ultranationalist group to distract police from prosecuting the December case.

But Konstatin Baranov, the deputy head of Orel's regional investigation unit, said it is too early to say the cases are connected. "There are many possible explanations," he said.

Baranov said one explanation for the most-recent bombing is that "it was done by local hooligans." He said other possibilities are that it was carried out by someone in the prosecutor's office itself or by a "local radical group."

Meanwhile, local human rights activist Dmitry Kraukhin, the director of Orel's United Europe Center, said these attacks are a sign that police are failing to combat extremism. "This [bombing] is obviously a political act," Kraukhin said.

"Our police hunt for extremists in opposition parties, while these Orel partisans are rising up," he said.

In May and June there were extremist attacks against police stations and other institutions in Russia's Far East by people dubbed "Russian Rambos." Many people in the area were sympathetic to the attackers.

The attacks resulted in the killing of one police officer and the wounding of three others.

Orel has a population of some 330,000 people and is located near the border with Ukraine.