Russian skinheads attack students

A racist attack on 10 foreign students by a group of Russian skinheads has brought horror to the People's Friendship University in Moscow, less than a week after a hostel fire raged on the same campus and killed 38 students.

Six students - five Jamaicans, including two girls, and one Colombian - sustained serious injuries and were taken to hospital after their group was attacked late on Saturday night when they walked back to the university in the south-west of Moscow.

Viktor Ponka, the university's rector, told the Russian news agency Itar-Tass that nine of the 30 attackers, all aged between 15 and 19, had been detained by police. "These are young men, who can be described as skinheads by the way they looked. All of them had short haircuts and wore high boots," he said. "This is not the first time that our students have become targets of attacks by extremist-minded youngsters."

Vladimir Filippov, the Russian Education Minister, assured the students that their attackers will be punished, and police said they have increased security at the university, which was founded in 1960 to offer affordable courses to students from impoverished nations. In recent years, foreign students have been subject to a growing number of attacks by Russian neo-Nazi groups, who target dark-skinned students, particularly those from former Soviet Central Asia.

The attack came as investigations continued into the cause of the fatal blaze that broke out in a dormitory of the university in the early hours of Monday last week, killing 38. A further 157 people remain in hospital, five of them said to be in a critical condition. The fire was initially blamed on arsonists, but the Russian authorities now believe faulty electrical equipment was to blame.