Rights group attacked in Russia's Caucasus after assault on journalists

10th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

Armed men have attacked the office of a prominent human rights organisation in the volatile Russian region of Ingushetia, the group said, hours after journalists were assaulted in the same area.

Footage of the attack posted on Twitter by Dmitry Utukin, a lawyer for the Committee to Prevent Torture, appeared to show several camouflaged armed men breaking security cameras at the group's office in the Ingush town of Karabulak.

"Armed men came to our office in five cars, one of them broke the security camera at the entrance. Three others came in through the window," Utukin wrote.

Nobody was inside at the time of the break-in, which occurred late Wednesday, just hours after masked men attacked a group of journalists on a trip organised by the group in the bordering region of Chechnya.

Nine people, including five journalists, were en route to Grozny, Chechnya's main city, when masked assailants stormed their minibus.

Journalists from Norway and Sweden, a lawyer for the NGO and the minibus driver were hospitalised with injuries, the group said late Wednesday.

Utukin said local investigators had opened a probe into the incidents.

The local branch of Russia's Investigative Committee refused comment when contacted by AFP on Thursday.

Founded in 2000, the Committee to Prevent Torture is one of the few NGOs active in Chechnya and offers legal support to torture victims.

A similar attack was carried out against the group's Grozny office last year.

The organisation's office was also torched in December 2014 after it criticised Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov for urging collective punishment of the families of Islamist insurgents.

Rights activists and journalists investigating torture, kidnapping and war crimes in Chechnya are routinely threatened and harassed.


© 2016 AFP

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