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Many Civilians Killed in Samashki Village, Chechnya

A Human Rights Watch research team in Ingushetia has interviewed five survivors of an October 27 Russian attack on Samashki village, located some eighteen miles west of Grozny.

Human Rights Watch has no information regarding possible military targets in the village. The Russian attack struck homes inhabited by dozens of noncombatants.

Beginning late at night on Oct 26, Russian shells fell with increasing intensity on Samashki. "We had taken shelter in our neighbors' basement," recalled Malika Abudullaeva, a thirty-year-old school teacher. "There were about seventy people with us underground, including many children and babies." At 11:00 p.m. on October 27, Abdullaeva took advantage of a lull in the shelling to leave the shelter and look for food, together with her twenty-five-year-old sister, Satsita. As they returned to the basement, the house standing above the shelter suffered a direct hit. The two sisters, located some fifteen yards away, were thrown to the ground by the force of the blast. Malika was hit by shrapnel in her right thigh, while Satsita was wounded in her back and left leg. "People ran out of the basement and dragged us inside," Satsita recalled, "and we learned that a young girl had been killed and that others were wounded." Because no bandages were available, their injuries were bound with torn cloths.

Louiza Abaeva, a thirty-year-old Samashki resident, said that Russian shells "landed on the whole area of the village," on October 27. She said her shoulder wounds were caused by explosives launched from two Russian war planes strafing the village at 10:00 am. The planes scored a direct hit on two nearby homes, killing two women and three children from the Abdukadirov family, and blowing off the leg of twelve year old Zelimkhan Yakuev. Madina Avturkhanova, a twenty-year-old woman, said she too was hit by an explosive during a lull in the October 27 shelling. "I came out of my basement with my mother," she said, "thinking that the bombing had stopped." Madina suffered injuries to her leg and both arms, and is now being treated at Sunzha district hospital. Madina's mother, forty-two-year-old Hava, said that "95 percent" of Samashki's dwellings were aflame by the evening of October 27 and that many residents were killed or wounded that day.

Human Rights Watch is concerned that the attack on this village may have been conducted without appropriate precautions to avoid grossly disproportionate harm to civilians and calls on Russia to respect the principle of civilian immunity.

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