US wants probe into Chechnya rights group attack


Washington: The United States on Monday condemned an arson attack against a human rights group in Chechnya, calling on authorities to ensure the safety of activists working in the region.

The Joint Mobile Group office said Sunday its office in Grozny had been destroyed by fire and vandalism after they criticized the Kremlin-installed Chechen leader.

"We are extremely concerned by reports of arson at the Grozny offices of the Joint Mobile Group and the threats directed against human rights defenders," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"We urge the authorities to investigate this incident and the threats against these individuals and ensure the safety of all human rights defenders in Chechnya and across Russia."

The latest incident in Grozny followed arson attacks reported against eight homes linked to insurgents` families in the wake of a surprise raid by rebel gunmen on the Chechen capital on December 4.

It is the latest chapter in years of harassment and murder of human rights activists and journalists investigating torture, kidnapping and war crimes in Chechnya, a tiny North Caucasus province where Russia has been fighting nationalist and Islamist rebels for 20 years.