ROSTOV-ON-DON - Attackers raided a regional branch of the Federal Drug Control Service in the Kabar-dino-Balkaria republic before dawn Tuesday, shot and killed four employees, looted an arsenal and set the office ablaze, police said.
The assailants stole 36 Kalashnikov automatic rifles, 136 pistols and 1,500 rifle cartridges, said Alexei Polyansky, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry's branch in Rostov-on-Don.
Six to 10 attackers were involved in the raid on the drug service building in Nalchik, the republic's capital, according to a preliminary investigation.
It was not immediately clear who they were.
Interfax quoted Natalya Marshen-kulova, spokeswoman for the drug agency's regional office, as saying the attackers handcuffed the four employees - three officers and a driver - and led them into a basement, where they shot them.
Polyansky said it was unclear how the attackers had gained entry to the building, which they apparently entered without firing a shot.
The first that law enforcement agencies heard of the attack was a telephone call around 5 a.m. from a man who reported he saw smoke pouring out of the drug agency office's windows, Itar-Tass reported.
Investigators were considering two motives for the attack: revenge by a drug baron or a hunt for weapons.
State television said the agency had interrupted a key drug route through Kabardino-Balkaria in the last month, but officials played down that version.