Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Official: 250 Missing in Chechnya This Year

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia -- Civilians are continuing to disappear in Chechnya, and nearly 250 people have gone missing since January, a deputy Chechen prime minister said Sunday.

"According to our information, 245 people have gone missing in Chechnya from January to May 2003," Mavsur Khamidov, who is responsible for relations with law enforcement agencies, told Interfax.

He said 171 people were kidnapped or reported missing in Chechnya in the first three months of the year. Another 62 people disappeared in April, and 12 people went missing in May, Khamidov said.

Khamidov suggested that federal troops were to blame in some cases, but not all. "Not all people go missing through the fault of the federal structures," he said. "Many are kidnapped by rebels, and we find their bodies."

During the two military campaigns in Chechnya, a total of about 2,500 people have disappeared, Khamidov said.

Law enforcement officials said all missing persons cases are investigated.

"We are doing everything to investigate every case," police Colonel General Rashid Nurgaliyev told Interfax.

Nurgaliyev said that every report of a kidnapping by people in Russian uniforms is investigated for the possible involvement of army or Interior Ministry units. However, he said that in some cases the abductions are carried out by rebels disguised as soldiers.

Meanwhile, three servicemen were killed and five were wounded in 12 separate attacks on federal positions and outposts over the past 24 hours, an official in the Moscow-backed regional administration said Sunday.

Two other soldiers were killed and one was wounded when a military truck detonated a mine near the village of Serzhen-Yurt in the Shali district, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.