A group of journalists along with human rights activists in south Russia were beaten up by unidentified assailants. Incident took place on Wednesday when the assailants attacked a bus carrying Russian and foreign journalists near the border of Chechnya.
Igor Kalyapin, chairman of the Committee For Prevention of Torture and a member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, said that group of assailants who emerged in three cars stopped the bus in its tracks. The assailants removed the occupants of the bus before setting it on fire. According to Timur Rakhmatulin, the NGO’s regional leader, two journalists along with the bus driver had to be hospitalised. However, their conditions could not be verified immediately.
A Swedish and a Norwegian reported were also said to be in the bus. According to reports, the group was making an unofficial tour to investigate human rights abuses.
The BBC reported that one of the journalists tweeted a photo of the burning vehicle, saying they were just attacked. “We’re okay, we’re talking to the police, all are alive,” the journalist posted after about an hour of the incident.
“They yelled ‘You’re supporting terrorists, the killers of our fathers.’ We laid on the floor but they began to scream for us to get out,” Russian broadsheet Kommersant quoted Mediazon journalist, Yegor Skovoroda, as saying.
However, the meaning of what the attackers said was not clear immediately. Chechniya is heavily populated by Muslims but is divided into two groups. One that follows Kremlin-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and followers of extremist groups such as the Islamic State, the South Coast Today reported.
Some of the factions in South Russia condemn the Russian airstrikes since September against rebels in Syria, depending on the ideologies they follow.
“This would not be in the interest of the Ingushetia side, this would be in the interest of the Chechen side,” Dmitry Utukin, the lawyer for the NGO, told AFP.