[QODLink]
Archive
Maskhadov's last shelter demolished
The authorities in Chechnya have blown up the house where Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov was killed by Russian troops last week.
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2005 23:18 GMT
Russian troops killed the Chechen separatist leader last week
The authorities in Chechnya have blown up the house where Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov was killed by Russian troops last week.

Officials said the house was destroyed since they feared deadly booby traps, but rights activists and government critics said the move added to the mystery behind Maskhadov's suspicious killing.

Officials said last Tuesday that Maskhadov was killed during an operation by Russian forces in a basement bunker in the northern Chechen village of Tolstoy-Yurt, but gave few details of the operation.

General Arkady Yedelev, chief of the federal headquarters for the campaign in Chechnya, said demolition experts who inspected the bunker discovered and detonated a box that contained documents and was ridden with explosives.

Official version

"The team of investigators decided to blow up the entire house to avoid such surprises in the future," Yedelev said.

Federal troops arrived on Sunday in several trucks and armoured vehicles, ordered residents of neighbouring buildings to clear the area and then blew up the house, witnesses said.

A neighbour, who identified herself only by her first name, Zura, said the explosion shattered windows and cracked walls in her house. "It scared me and my children to death," she said.

While federal authorities said Maskhadov was hiding in the bunker, Yakha Yusupova - who lived in the house with her family - denied the rebel leader had been there and said she suspected Russian forces may have brought him on Tuesday.

Official version questioned

Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent Russian columnist and expert on Chechnya, said the house was apparently blown up to destroy any evidence that could cast doubt on official accounts of Maskhadov's killing.

"There is nothing left now to question the official version of events," Politkovskaya said in a telephone interview, scoffing at the official explanation.

"Can't they defuse booby traps without blowing up the entire house? she said.

Alexander Petrov of Human Rights Watch's Moscow office said federal authorities in the past had blown up houses in Chechnya that belonged to separatist fighters who participated in attacks.

The practice has drawn strong criticism from international rights groups, he said.

"If the authorities blew up the house to punish the house owners, it's a bad move," Petrov said.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.