Russian human rights activist killed in Chechnya

MOSCOW - The head of a prominent Russian human rights organisation was kidnapped and killed in Chechnya Wednesday, the Moscow state prosecutor’s office confirmed.

Natalya Estemirova, head of the group Memorial, was abducted by unknown people after leaving her home Wednesday morning, a spokesman for the group earlier told DPA.

Citing government reports, the Interfax news agency later said her body had been found in the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia.

The Chechen interior ministry announced an investigation into the case.

Violent incidents have been arising across the Caucasus in recent months as Islamist rebel forces clash with pro-Russian local governments.

Estemirova was regarded as a committed human rights campaigner in the former war zone of Chechnya.

Memorial is a group devoted to airing past and present abuses by the former Soviet state and the current Russian government.

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