Residents of Russia's Chechnya region say the authorities are carrying out Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov's orders to destroy the homes of relatives of alleged militants held responsible for attacks.
Residents of the village of Yandi said that masked men arrived in more than a dozen vehicles late on December 8 and set several homes on fire.
On December 6, after 14 policemen were killed in some of the deadliest fighting in the Chechen capital in years, Kadyrov announced that relatives of militants involved in killings would be evicted from Chechnya and their homes "razed down to the basement."
Residents said not all the homes torched in Yandi belonged to families of militants believed to have been involved in the Grozny attack.
Amnesty International said that punishing suspects' relatives is a "flagrant violation of international law" and that Russia must hold an impartial investigation.
In a statement on December 9, it said: "By allowing these alleged acts of collective punishment to go unchallenged, the Russian leadership will be sending a dangerous message that such abuses are actually allowed and encouraged."
The Moscow-based human rights group Memorial said that six homes of relatives of suspected Chechen militants, including three men killed during the attack in Grozny, have been burned to the ground.
The head of the Committee to Prevent Torture, another Russian rights group, has written to Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin saying that such reprisals are illegal and violate citizens’ rights.
Kadyrov has been accused of running Chechnya as if it were his own fiefdom, often disregarding Russian law in his efforts to keep order in the restive North Caucasus republic.
The Kremlin has tolerated Kadyrov's alleged excesses because it relies on him to maintain order and suppress separatism in Chechnya, where Russia has fought two wars against rebels since 1994.
With reporting by RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, slon.ru, and the "Moscow Times"