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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

German, Slovak Nabbed in Ingushetia

A German businessman and a Slovakian were kidnapped at an airport near Chechnya in southern Russia and remain unaccounted for, officials said.

The captors have demanded a ransom of $3.5 million for Guenther Klaus of Germany, who works for the company Eibano, officials in the republic of Ingushetia were quoted Saturday by Itar-Tass as saying.

Klaus and a Slovak identified only as Petrovic were kidnapped Aug. 3 at the airport in Nazran, the capital of Ingushetia, the report said.

The German Foreign Ministry in Bonn confirmed that a German businessman had been kidnapped but declined to release details. Attempts to reach officials at Germany's embassy in Moscow on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Ingush Prime Minister Belan Khamchiyev was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying he had received a fax from German officials in Moscow on Friday about Klaus' abduction. He said authorities there were not aware of his arrival.

The news agency said Khamchiyev has sent Klaus a letter telling him that he should notify the Ingush government and law enforcement authorities the next time he comes for a visit.

Klaus was headed for Chechnya for talks with President Aslan Maskhadov about supplying medical supplies to the republic, Itar-Tass said.

Four French aid workers who disappeared this month in southern Russia have been kidnapped and are being held in breakaway Chechnya, a regional security official said Monday.

The four French citizens, who were connected with the humanitarian group EquiLibre, disappeared Aug. 2 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a republic just east of Chechnya.

Dagestani Security Council chief Magomed Tolboyev said Monday he managed to contact the kidnappers during the night but they refused to negotiate with him, Itar-Tass reported.

Tolboyev gave no further details besides saying that the four were being held in Chechnya. His statement was the first official comment shedding some light on the fate of the four.

According to Russian reports, EquiLibre was engaged in repairing school buildings in the Dagestani area of Khasavyurt near Chechnya.

The rebel republic remains plagued by ransom-motivated kidnappings despite a treaty with Russia that ended a two-year war with Moscow last year.

Five Russian television journalists have been missing in Chechnya for months, in addition to dozens of Russian servicemen seized during the war.

Maskhadov has said people involved in kidnappings could face the death penalty or life imprisonment.

The Chechen government wants to halt the rash of kidnappings and win freedom for the current hostages ahead of the planned meeting this month between President Boris Yeltsin and Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov.

The two leaders are expected to meet within days, though the time and place remain to be fixed.