MOSCOW (AFP) - A Russian brown bear has gone on an after-hours rampage in a provincial shopping mall, smashing storefronts before being shot dead in a nearby kindergarten by local law enforcement officers.
Video surveillance footage showed the frantic bear roaming the empty shopping centre in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk after it had closed for the night on Tuesday.
Local police said the bear eventually managed to escape and was finally tracked down and surrounded in the courtyard of a kindergarten.
"Without waiting for the veterinary service to arrive the bear was killed in order to avoid any attacks against local residents," the city's investigative committee said in a statement.
But the killing of the bear sparked outrage from Russian animal rights campaigners and pushed investigators to probe police over the slaying.
"The police did what was simplest," local animal activist Natalia Kovalenko was quoted as saying by state-run Vesti.ru.
"First they made it crazy by smoking it out of the mall, then when the animal came out and was defending itself out of fear, they shot it."
Foraging bears regularly make incursions into villages and towns in Russia.
Last month, officials in Siberia said famished brown bears were terrorising villagers as drought and wildfires forced the animals to search for food closer to built-up areas.