Russia's massacres of the Muslims of Chechnya ignored by the world

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 08:55:31 -0000

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia - Hundreds of people gathered outside the
Moscow-appointed Chechen government headquarters Wednesday to protest
Russian security sweeps in their village, bringing with them the burned
remains of seven people they said were killed in the operations. 

The protesters said the bodies were villagers killed during a four-day
sweep that ended Monday, and they demanded that experts examine and
identify them. A spokesman for the Federal Security Service, which
oversees Moscow's fight against Chechen rebels, said that the bodies
were those of guerrillas killed in battle. 

The approximately 300 protesters were from Starye Atagi, 11 miles south
of the Chechen capital, Grozny, straddling a key crossroads between
Chechnya's plains and mountains. Recent intelligence reports have
indicated that rebels were moving through the village en route to the
mountains, said a Chechen government official, who spoke on condition of
anonymity. 

Russian troops have conducted four so-called sweeps of the village this
year, sealing it off and searching street to street and house to house
for people with suspected rebel ties. 

The protesters demanded that villagers detained during the sweeps be
freed. Fifteen people were detained in Starye Atagi, according to the
Memorial human rights group. 

Chechen premier Stanislav Ilyasov said that the government would launch
an investigation into the killings and dispatch a special commission to
Starye Atagi. But Alexander Zdanovich, the security service spokesman,
said prosecutors had already looked into the killings and determined
that Russian servicemen had acted legally. The men were killed while
"putting up fierce resistance," the Interfax news agency quoted him as
saying. 

One Russian soldier was killed and four were wounded Tuesday when their
armored personnel carrier ran over a mine planted on the approach to
Starye Atagi, the administration official said. Seven Russian servicemen
were killed elsewhere in the province over the past 24 hours, the
official said. 

At least 60 people have been detained across Chechnya over the same
period, the official said. The military was conducting sweeps in several
regions in the south. 

Russian forces withdrew from Chechnya in 1996 after a grueling, 20-month
war, leaving the region de facto independent. They returned in fall
1999, after rebels raided a neighboring Russian region and a series of
apartment house bombings blamed on Chechens killed some 300 people in
three Russian cities. 

Source:  Associated Press

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