Four people shot, wounded in conflict between smugglers at Ukrainian-Romanian border
Four people were shot and seriously wounded in a conflict between two groups of men arguing over contraband cigarettes at a border between Ukraine's Zakarpattia region and Romania, Zakarpattia regional administration head Hennadiy Moskal said.
The incident took place at a petrol station in the village of Nyznia Apsha, the Tiachiv district, as a group of residents of Mukacheve, some of them with criminal records, tried to settle scores with Tiachiv district residents engaged in smuggling cigarettes from Ukraine to Romania, Moskal said on his personal website.
Preliminary findings indicate that the conflict was prompted by a debt for cigarettes that smugglers from the Tiachiv district had received from Mukacheve but failed to pay for after losing them in an attempt to smuggle them across the border.
The two groups of men first had a heated verbal exchange, which gradually grew into a fistfight. Finally, one of the locals took a foreign-made submachine-gun from his car and started randomly shooting at his opponents, firing a total of over 20 bullets, Moskal said.
"As a result, four men from Mukacheve, aged from 22 to 36, sustained gunshot wounds of varying degrees. All of them are now in hospital, one of them in serious condition," Moskal said.
In commenting on the incident, Moskal noted that the smuggling problem at the local border section is complicated by the fact that both Ukrainian and Romanian border guards deployed there poorly perform their duties and try to make profit on contraband cigarettes.
"At a teleconference at the regional administration on August 29, I publicly warned the commander of the Mukacheve border unit that, if he fails to establish order at the Solotvyno-Bila Tserkva-Luh border section with Romania, the leadership of the State Border Service will be advised on his inaction," he said.
The National Police department in the Zakarpattia region has been instructed to detain all people involved in the conflict within the shortest possible time, Moskal said. "One of the members of the Tiachiv group is a lawmaker from the Tiachiv District Council representing the United Center," Moskal said.