Two men set themselves on fire after attempting to torch their alleged getaway car in a gangland assassination attempt gone wrong, Ukrainian police say.
The men had allegedly attempted to shoot Radoje Zvicer, whom police believe is a member of a Montenegrin cocaine trafficking gang.
The Kavač and Škaljari gangs have been at war for five years over East Europe's drug trade.
Five men were arrested.
An attempted assassination of an alleged Montenegrin drug kingpin on a Kiev, Ukraine, street went sideways Tuesday as two gunmen lit themselves on fire while trying to destroy evidence during their escape, according to local media and CCTV footage released on social media.
The CCTV footage released by investigative reporter Christo Grozev shows two men soaking a stolen SMART car with flammable liquid before the flames unexpectedly engulf both men, leaving at least one alight. Both men were quickly captured by Kiev police and are under investigation in the shooting of Radoje Zvicer, a man Ukrainian police believe to be a key member of a Montenegrin cocaine trafficking gang.
Zvicer was wounded in the stomach during the attack, which took place minutes before the car fire.
The incident sent Ukrainian police on a nationwide manhunt for other members of the assassination crew. Ultimately, a total of five people were arrested. "Ukrainian police confirms it has arrested the two would-be killers and two accomplices (Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro citizens) plus the target. The assassin group were arrested in Odessa as they were heading for the Moldova border," Grozev tweeted.
One of the suspects is "internationally wanted for contract killing," according to Interfax.
Tuesday's failed assassination and accidental self-immolation appears to be part of a five-year-long gang war between two clans of Montenegrin gangsters from the same mountain villages in Kodor on Montenegro's Adriatic coast, according to series of in-depth reports by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.
—Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) May 26, 2020
According to the OCCRP reporting, the Kavač and Škaljari clans had been long time partners in smuggling cocaine from South America to Europe until 2014 when a shipment of 200kg of the group's cocaine was stolen in a dispute over control of a safehouse used by the clans. By 2015, the dispute had spiralled into a gang war across much of Europe. Serbian police and OCCRP reporters believe the conflict taken as many as 41 lives as both clans fight for supremacy and drag other Balkan criminal organizations into the struggle.
"The scale of the conflict between the 'Škaljari' and the 'Kavač' clans is seen in the findings that, in the criminal milieu in Montenegro and Serbia, a significant division occurred," Serbia's intelligence agency wrote in a February 2018 report obtained by OCCRP's local Serbian media partner on the investigation.
"Most significant organized criminal groups have decided to join one of these two rival criminal groups."
While most of the deaths have been of clan members, the assassinations have also hit lawyers for the clans, family members, suspected corrupt police officials, and even a member of the Montenegrin parliament.
Killings linked to the ongoing feud have occurred not only across Serbia, Eastern Europe and the Balkans but have touched Spain, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Greece in the wave of bloodshed.
In January, two top leaders of the Škaljari clan were gunned down outside an Athens restaurant in front of their families, according to Greek and Serbian police.
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