Gunmen murder 10 in restaurant

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THREE MASKED men armed with sub-machine-guns killed 10 people in a restaurant in the southern Slovak city of Dunajska Streda in what was thought to be an incident linked to organised crime.

The three men, dressed in overalls and black body armour vests, entered the restaurant and shouted: "This is the police, everybody get on the ground." Then they opened fire. Nine people, described by police yesterday as "young men'', were shot dead instantly. Another died in hospital after the shooting on Thursday.

"At this stage, we can neither confirm, nor exclude the possibility that the shooting is linked with organised crime," said Martin Toth, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

Murders and fatal bombings have plagued Slovakia since the mid-1990s. Police have said many result from turf wars between criminal gangs from Slovakia, Ukraine, Yugoslavia and Russia. In 1997, at least 12 people were killed and 16 injured in bomb attacks in various towns. Five were killed and four injured in 1996 .

The government formed last September, has pledged to tackle mushrooming violent crime, said to be a result of corruption and ties between organised crime and the state authorities. (Reuters)