Chechen homes destroyed after deadly Grozny attack

The inside of a Chechen house, attacked by unknown assailants

The streets look empty in Yandi, the Chechen village where several homes have been burnt to the ground. But they are being closely monitored.

The houses were set alight after the southern Russian republic's leader Ramzan Kadyrov called for relatives of Islamist militants to be punished in response to a deadly attack on Grozny last week.

Within five minutes of entering a courtyard in one of the burnt-out houses, an armoured jeep with armed men inside stopped at the gate. Our papers were thoroughly checked.

Inside the house we found rooms blackened by fire. Half-burnt furniture and clothing were strewn around.

In some places the roofs had caved in. Some of the residents had fled salvaging what they could, others were simply staying away.

The authorities say the homes belonged to relatives of those involved in the 4 December attack in which 14 members of the security forces were killed.

We spoke to a woman who owns one of the houses.

Her son, she said, had left to join the rebels two years ago. His name was not among the list of militants who attacked Grozny. But several of the militants' bodies are yet to be identified.

Her son's story is typical. According to the mother, he was detained twice, had been sentenced twice and tortured on a number of occasions.

She believes these were the reasons he decided to join the rebels.

Midway through our conversation the police came again and drove us away for more checks.

We were allowed back later, accompanied by two heavily-armed officers of the Russian Federal Security Service.

Relatives of another family whose home was attacked said they would have to move.

"There won't be peace for us here," an elderly man said.

He too said the families of those who went to join the insurgency had no means of controlling their relatives.

Many here fear that this will simply drive the cycle of violence further as militants vow revenge against what they call the persecution of innocent people.

As we were driving away an armoured personnel carrier drove by. Other journalists later said the village was sealed off and they were prevented from coming in.

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