Ukraine’s interior ministry says at least five people were killed when a member of the national guard opened fire at an aerospace factory in the east of the country.

The shooting took place in the early hours of Thursday in Dnipro at the Pivdenmash missile factory during the issuance of weapons to the guards, the ministry said in a statement.

The attacker opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and immediately fled the scene, it said.

“As a result, five people died and another five were injured.”

The incident occurred around 3.40am local time (0140 GMT), the ministry said, when the shooter was being issued the weapon at the beginning of a shift.

The Yuzhmash facility is an aerospace factory that produces and tests material related to defence, aeronautics and agriculture, according to its website.

The ministry’s statement said the shooter was born in 2001 and there was an ongoing operation to locate him.

“The motives for the crime are not yet known,” it said, adding that a commander of the national guard, Nikolai Balan, had been sent to the scene.

Bullying rituals plagued militaries of former Soviet countries in the 1990s – a trend that rights groups say has improved – but regularly result in suicides or murders.

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