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Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 15:37 GMT
Russians accused of Grozny massacres

The remaining residents are living in terrible conditions in Grozny

There are fresh allegations that Russian troops massacred civilians after capturing the Chechen capital, Grozny, earlier this month.

Battle for the Caucasus
Witnesses told the BBC that as many as 82 civilians had been killed by Russian soldiers in the suburb of Aldi on one day alone.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at least 62 people had died in Aldi, when some 100 federal soldiers went on a two-day rampage starting on 5 February - several days after Chechen rebels pulled out of Grozny.

Survivors told the group that the troops had systematically robbed and shot civilians, raped several women and thrown grenades into basement hideouts.

We are uncovering a pattern of summary executions throughout Grozny
Holly Carter, Human Rights Watch
HRW has published the names and ages of 50 people it said were civilians who had been killed in Grozny by Russian troops.

It said 34 had died in Aldi and 16 in two other parts of the ruined capital.

Each of the 50 names were provided by at least two witnesses to the killings, interviewed separately, HRW said.

The Aldi victims - including the very elderly and the very young - had apparently been trying to prevent the army looting their property.

One woman told the BBC she had watched a mother being shot while she struggled to pull her dead son out from beneath a pile of bodies.

There has been no independent verification of the massacre but a large number of people claim to have witnessed it.

War crimes

"It is becoming increasingly clear that these are not isolated incidents," Holly Carter, executive director of HRW's Europe and Central Asia division, said in a statement.

"We are uncovering a pattern of summary executions throughout Grozny," she said.

The French human rights group Medecins du Monde has also denounced what it called "massive and systematic war crimes" carried out by the Russians in Chechnya.

"Such acts could be described as crimes against humanity," the organisation's head, Jacky Mamou, said.

Doctor Guy Causse, who recently returned from a three-week mission in Chechnya, said the death toll from the latest Russian offensive would be much higher than the 60,000 who died in 1995.

He said the republic's few remaining residents were living under terrible conditions and were being used as hostages by Russian troops.

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See also:
23 Feb 00 |  Europe
Chechnya sealed off
19 Feb 00 |  Europe
Row over Chechnya 'atrocities'
18 Feb 00 |  Europe
Russia to seal Grozny
15 Feb 00 |  Europe
Russians urged to stop 'vacuum' bombings

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