Russia tortured, killed Muslim civilians in N.Caucasus: Rights group

Rights group Memorial rejected Russian account that Muslim civilians were "accidentally caught in crossfire".

Russia tortured, killed Muslim civilians in N.Caucasus: Rights group

Rights group Memorial said on Monday Russian forces abducted and killed four Muslim civilians during recent attacks against insurgents in the Muslim North Caucasus, rejecting Russian account that they were "accidentally caught in crossfire".

Memorial said in a report based on interviews with witnesses that the four were abducted, tortured and killed. They had multiple gunshot or knife wounds, which Memorial's Alexander Cherkasov said were photographed by local rights activists.

The Kremlin had no immediate comment on the report.

Authorities said over the weekend four civilians had "accidentally" come under attack in a nearby forest during a large-scale operation that killed at least 20 insurgents in Ingushetia, a region bordering Chechnya.

Ingushetia's leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov apologised on Saturday for their "unfortunate deaths" and gave the families compensation money.

But Cherkasov told Reuters on Monday: "They are not, as authorities claimed, the victims of crossfire."

"Doing nothing"

The website kavkazcenter.com, citing relatives and local witnesses, said on Monday that 14 civilians had been killed during last week's clashes, mostly teenagers who were picking wild garlic in a forest.

Russian forces, in particular the much-feared OMON riot police, were accused by the European Union and rights groups of serious human rights abuses during the two Chechen wars, which they denied.

Popular daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, which featured the four civilians' deaths on its front page Monday, wrote in uncharacteristic criticism of the government: "It's simple: Destroy militants with disregard for peaceful citizens. As it always is and always has been".

Imram Ezhiev, a Chechen human rights activist and head of the Society of Russian-Chechen Friendship, told Reuters from the Chechen capital Grozny: "Forces kill civilians regularly, but it is rare for authorities to admit to it."

He said that "the Chechen and Ingush authorities are doing nothing about these grave human rights violations and are not confronting the Russians."

Russia imposed its control in Muslim states in the 1990s. Still low-level insurgency continues in Muslim states controlled by Russia.

Human rights groups have repeatedly accused the authorities of serious abuses including house burning, extra-judicial killings, torture and illegal punishment.


Agencies

Last Mod: 17 Şubat 2010, 11:21
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