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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Human Rights Group Accuses Army of Executing Chechens

After months of devastating artillery strikes, then mine explosions and looting, Chechen civilians have been gripped by another kind of terror: People have been snatched by gunmen in military uniforms, later turning up dead, their bodies dumped in fields or forests, a human rights group said Monday.

In one of the most chilling discoveries, more than 50 bodies — up to 80, by some accounts — have been uncovered just outside the main military base of Khankala, near Grozny.

The heavily guarded area also served as a detention center for suspected rebels, and the human rights group Memorial says the bodies were Chechen men and women seized by the military and summarily executed.

"We have all seen for a year how people have been brought to Khankala," said Alexander Cherkasov of Memorial. "Now we know where to look for them."

Fifty bodies were laid out for identification Monday at an abandoned warehouse in Grozny. At least four more bodies have been identified and taken away by relatives, said Memorial chairman Oleg Orlov.

Several mass graves of people allegedly detained by federal forces have been uncovered, Memorial has charged, but the burial ground outside Khankala seems the biggest yet.

Government statements have been conflicting, with officials suggesting that the bodies were rebels killed in fighting.