Russia convicts 12 for 2004 North Caucasus raid

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A Russian court on Wednesday convicted 12 men involved in a brazen attack in the volatile North Caucasus that left 78 dead, sentencing them to between 10 years and life in prison, Interfax reported.

The court in the southern city of Stavropol sentenced one of the accused to life in prison and the 11 others to between 10 and 25 years, the news agency reported, in connection with the 2004 attack in the city of Nazran in the Russian republic of Ingushetia.

The raid saw dozens of militants launch simultaneous attacks on state buildings, killing government employees and seizing large quantities of weapons.

The accused had earlier alleged the charges against them were fabricated and that they had been tortured while in custody.

Non-governmental groups have repeatedly accused Russian security forces of torturing and violating the rights of suspects in militant attacks.

Attacks by Islamist militants have claimed hundreds of lives in the North Caucasus in recent years as rebels wage an insurgency against the authorities aimed at imposing an Islamic state in the region.

Attacks take place almost daily and on Wednesday investigators said gunmen shot dead four police in another North Caucasus region, Kabardino-Balkaria.

The Kremlin fought two wars against separatist rebels in Chechnya in the 1990s but the insurgency has now become more Islamist in tone and has spread to neighbouring Ingushetia and Dagestan.

© 2011 AFP

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