The body of Nasrudin Bazhiyev, who once served as interior minister of a de facto independent Chechnya, was discovered in Grozny's Oktyabrsky neighbourhood, a spokesman for Chechnya's interior ministry told reporters.

According to Bazhiyev's relatives, masked armed men, accompanied by two armed personnel carriers, took him away from the village of Katayam on Grozny's outskirts last Thursday.

Bazhiyev became Chechnya's interior minister in 1998, two years after insurgents drove back the Russian army and the mainly Muslim republic received de facto independence from Moscow.

The Kremlin poured troops back into Chechnya in October 1999. A brutal conflict continues to claim lives in the devastated republic on nearly a daily basis.

Decomposed
 

Chechen president Ahmad Kadyrov
is blamed for kidnappings  

Residents preparing to reconstruct a destroyed house in Grozny's Leninsky neighbourhood on Monday discovered the bodies of five men in the basement, local officials said.
 
The men appeared to have been between 25-50 years old and their bodies had signs that they were tortured before they died - their hands were tied with wire behind their backs and black plastic bags were pulled over their heads.

The bodies were taken to a local mosque, where dozens of people with missing relatives filed in to try and identify them.

Some suggested that judging by the scale of the bodies' decomposition, the men were likely killed three to four months ago.

Random kidnappings and detentions are a regular occurrence in Chechnya, with human rights groups blaming Russian troops and forces loyal to the pro-Moscow Chechen President Ahmad Kadyrov.