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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechens Say They Will Help Free Kidnapped American

Chechen authorities said Thursday they would do everything possible to free an American aid worker kidnapped this week in the breakaway republic and said they had nothing to do with the seizure.

Kenny Gluck, 38, a member of the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, was seized Tuesday near the town of Stariye Atagi about 15 kilometers south of the regional capital Grozny.

In a statement issued by the separatists, the Chechen government said it had "no relation whatsoever to the incident" said it "will take all possible actions to liberate" Gluck.

Gluck and his fellow aid workers were traveling inside the borders of Chechnya on a mission to deliver medical aid. Other foreign and local workers in the group of cars managed to escape unharmed.

Doctors Without Borders - which won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize - is an international medical group that supplies free medical help to disaster areas and war zones.

Doctors Without Borders pulled out of the rebel region in December 1997 as kidnapping for ransom became a widespread racket, but returned in December 1999.

Russian authorities blamed the aid workers for not notifying them of their travels and moving without military escort. However, Doctors Without Borders said they had notified the Russian authorities of their planned itinerary.

Hundreds of people, including foreign aid workers, journalists, Russian soldiers and local residents - have been kidnapped by armed bands for ransom, especially after the region descended into anarchy following the expulsion of Russian troops in a 1994-96 war.

Kidnappers have resorted to extreme cruelty, such as sending videotapes of the captive's finger being cut off. Victims are often kept chained in pits or are used as slaves. Four workers for a British telecommunications firm were beheaded.

Russian troops returned to Chechnya in 1999 after rebels based there invaded a neighboring region and after apartment bombings in Moscow and other cities killed about 300 people. The Russian government blamed rebels for the blasts.

Russian officials also cited the wave of kidnappings as justification for a military campaign in the region.