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the Associated Press

Environmental Protester Slain in Siberia

Alex Nicholson

MOSCOW -- Attackers dressed in dark clothes and wielding metal pipes raided a camp of environmental protesters in Siberia early Saturday, leaving one dead and several injured, a spokeswoman for the local administration said.

0721 04Eight demonstrators were hospitalized after the attack, one of whom later died from his injuries, according to the spokeswoman for the Angarsk city administration, who was not authorized to give her name.

A criminal investigation had been opened in connection with the attack, she said.

More than 20 demonstrators had been camped out by a reservoir near Angarsk, about 2,600 miles east of Moscow, to protest nuclear waste processing at the state-owned Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant, Russian news agencies reported, citing local police.

Two suspects in the attack have been detained and 13 others identified, the RIA Novosti agency reported, citing a local police source.

Police spokesman Valery Gribakin was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency as suggesting that theft had appeared to be a motive for the attack: Police had confiscated a rucksack and telephone from the detained that had belonged to the protesters, he said.

"Investigators are inclined to believe that the attack was motivated by hooliganism with the aim of stealing property," he said.

Angarsk is located about 60 miles from the southern tip of Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake and a symbol for some of Russia environmental heritage.

Russia is working to set up a uranium enrichment center at the electrolysis plant to enrich uranium from Kazakhstan - a major uranium ore producer.

President Vladimir Putin proposed setting up the center in 2006 as a way to provide uranium fuel to nations intent on building nuclear power plants while making sure they don't develop weapons programs.

Enriched uranium supplied by the center would be made available only to countries which have undertaken the appropriate nonproliferation commitments. These would include a pledge of no use for nuclear explosive purposes and acceptance of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

© 2007 The Associated Press

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