6 Red Cross workers slain at Chechen hospital
December 17, 1996
Web posted at: 9:00 a.m. EST (1400 GMT)
MOSCOW (CNN) -- The Red Cross has shut down its operations in
Chechnya after the shooting deaths of six staff members at a
hospital compound early Tuesday morning.
Unidentified gunmen broke into the staff residence of the
compound at Novye Atagi, 11 miles southwest of the Chechen
capital Grozny, and shot to death five female nurses and a
male architect while they slept.
Two of the victims were from Norway, and one each from
the Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada and Spain. A Swiss
doctor was seriously wounded. Their names were not released.
Red Cross officials at the agency's Geneva headquarters
called the attack an "outrage."
"There's no doubt at all that the people who targeted the
delegation knew exactly what they were doing," said
spokeswoman Kim Gordon-Bates.
(252K/23 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Gordon-Bates said the remaining staff members at the hospital
were being pulled out of Chechnya, and added that the closure
of the hospital would be unfortunate for the Chechen victims
of the 21-month long battle with Russia for independence.
Tens of thousands died in the fighting that ended in August
with the signing of a fragile peace agreement.
Chechen Vice Premier Movladi Udugov told the ITAR-Tass news
agency that the attack was "a dreadful link in the chain of
provocations aimed against the fragile peace in Chechnya."
But Red Cross spokesman Tony Burgener said it was simply "an
"We are strongly condemning this attack, which is a serious
violation of international humanitarian law," he said. "The
hospital was clearly marked with Red Cross signs all over
The hospital -- the Red Cross's only such facility in
Chechnya -- was opened in September with assurances from
Chechen and Russian leaders. Bertrand Kern, deputy director
of the agency's delegation in Moscow, said 40 patients were
in the hospital at the time of the attack.
Sporadic violence and kidnappings have continued since the
peace agreement was signed, and those
actions are usually blamed on rogue rebel commanders.
Russia has threatened to stop its troop pullout, now under
way, if the problems continue.
Rebel commando Salman Raduyev, who reportedly has no
connection with the independence movement's political and
military leadership, kidnapped at least 21 Russian soldiers
last Saturday, and negotiations are still under way for their
Aid workers have been targets in the past. A Red Cross worker
was briefly kidnapped in Grozny last month, and the Novye
Atagi hospital has been robbed.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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