Thai police continue search for killer of two Russian tourists

Police in Thailand are investigating the deaths of two female Russian tourists found shot dead in the resort of Pattaya. Their bodies were found on a beach early Saturday, where witnesses report seeing a man running from the scene.

The victims identified as Tatyana Tsimfer, aged 30, and Lyubov Svirkova, aged 25 were found on Chomtien beach. Both had been staying at the Dragon Beach Resort hotel since February 16.

Vladimir Pronin, Russian Consul General said, “On the night of February 23-24, on one of Pattaya beaches, two bodies of Russian female citizens were found. The governor of the province where this incident took place took the case under his personal supervision. I'd like to re-iterate that the circumstances still remain unclear, but so far no evidence of robbery has been found.”

In the afternoon they were seen on the beach, swimming, sunbathing and both seemed happy. Later in the day, they didn't leave the beach and bought drinks.

Witnesses reported hearing gunfire at about 5 a.m. local time and saw a man running from the beach. The suspected attacker then escaped on a motorcycle. Policemen arrived quickly at the scene and found unfinished drinks and the victim's belongings nearby.

Many footprints were found around the site of the tragedy, but it's not clear, whether any of them belong to the alleged attacker, as hundreds of people walk on the beach every day.

Aleksey Bulkin, spokesperson of Russian Embassy, has told Russia Today that “Russia's Embassy Consul is making yet another visit to Pattaya in order to meet with police representatives who are expected to provide preliminary results of the investigation. We do hope the information will shed light on the accident.”

This is not the first time that holiday makers have been attacked in Thailand. In November 2006 two other Russian tourists were attacked and severely beaten. And in January 2007, a British tourist Katrin Horton was raped and killed on Samui Island.

Nevertheless, thousands of holiday makers keep coming to the country, attracted by spectacular scenery and cheap prices. Three charter flights take Russian's from Moscow to Bangkok every day.

“This incident will hardly reduce the flow of tourists from Russia to Thailand,” says Irina Tyurina of the Union of Tourist Industry. “In late March, Russians will be even able to travel to Thailand visa-free. Now it won't be any different from Turkey or Egypt. Thailand is a very popular destination, partly because it's not so expensive. Russians love to travel there.”

A murder investigation has been launched.