Large scale "mopping-up operation" underway in Serzhen-Yurt
Ruslan Isayev, North Caucasus, March 19 - A large-scale “mopping-up” operation is being conducted in the village of Serzhen-Yurt, some 35 kilometers south-east of the capital Grozny.
Already on March 16 additional checkpoints were set up on the roads leading from the village to Vedeno, Avtury and Shali, and military vehicles encircled Serzhen-Yurt. In the morning of March 17 heavy military vehicles with Russian soldiers wearing masks entered the settlement. Since then Serzhen-Yurt has been completely sealed off, local people have been banned to leave it and restrictions have been imposed on transport to and from the village.
It has been reported that on the first day of the “mopping-up” operation Russian soldiers detained about 100 male villagers. Sixty of those, beaten and injured, were released on the following day, but the remaining 40 people have not yet returned and the place of their detention is unknown. Three locals, Umar Ezhiyev (born in 1956), Magomed Yandayev (1962), Shaikha Zukhayrayev (1966), are unaccounted-for. The rumour has it that they are not alive any more.
The locals say that Serzhen-Yurt is the place in Chechnya that has suffered most from Russian bombardments. However, they still do not feel safe for a single day due to montly “mopping-up” operations, although after each special operation the Shali district commander, Gen. Nakhayev, promises that soldiers will not abuse the civilian population.