12 August 2005 -- The sister of a Chechen rebel leader was kidnapped by masked gunmen today, according to a Chechen official.
An official in the pro-Moscow Chechen government, speaking under condition of anonymity, said about six masked men in camouflage uniforms seized Natasha Khumadova from her home in the town of Urus-Martan early this morning. Khumadova is the sister of Chechen rebel commander Doku Umarov.
Witnesses said they saw her being forced into an off-road vehicle.
Aleksandr Cherkasov of the Russian rights group Memorial, said such abductions are "very much a part of the tactics of federal forces."
Cherkasov told Ekho Moskvy radio that relatives of well-known rebel leaders have been kidnapped in the past.
RFE/RL Interviews Chechen Field Commander UmarovFor RFE/RL's full coverage of events in Chechnya, see "Crisis In Chechnya"