Europe

Russia Ingushetia: Journalists and activists 'beaten up'

Photo tweeted by journalist Yegor Skovoroda Image copyright Yegor Skovoroda
Image caption A photo of a burning vehicle was tweeted by journalist Yegor Skovoroda

Unknown assailants have beaten up a group of journalists and human rights activists in the south Russian region of Ingushetia, reports say.

The attackers reportedly stopped the bus on which the group was travelling to neighbouring Chechnya, removed those on board and set the vehicle on fire.

Two foreign reporters, from Sweden and Norway, are said to be in the group.

Reports suggest the group was making an unofficial press tour to investigate human rights abuses.

According to a Russian non-governmental organisation involved in the group, the Committee to Prevent Torture, those attacked required hospital treatment afterwards.

'Probably Chechens'

A journalist travelling in the group tweeted a photo of a burning vehicle, saying the group had just been attacked.

Going online an hour after the incident, he wrote, "We're okay, we're talking to the police, all are alive," then added his phone battery was dying.

Igor Kalyapin, who chairs the NGO and is a member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, reported the attack on the council's website (in Russian).

Unidentified persons travelling in three cars stopped the bus at 19:15 (16:15 GMT) and attacked the occupants, taking away two mobile phones, he said.

A lawyer for the NGO told AFP news agency the attack near the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya was likely to have been orchestrated by Chechens.

"This would not be in the interest of the Ingushetia side, this would be in the interest of the Chechen side," Dmitry Utukin told AFP, because Chechnya had paid "a lot of attention" to the work of the committee and journalists operating on its territory.

Separately, Mr Utukin told a Russian commercial internet station, TV Rain, that the eight-strong group on the bus had been beaten with sticks.

The bus was completely burnt out, along with personal effects such as passports and recording equipment, he added.

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