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Nationalists, Chechens Clash In Northern Russian Town

Police and local residents face off in the center of Kondopoga on September 3 (ITAR-TASS) September 3, 2006 -- Reports say right-wing nationalists and residents in a northern Russian town have clashed with riot police and destroyed a restaurant.

Thousands of people gathered September 2 in the center of Kondopoga, about 965 kilometers north of Moscow, and demanded that police expel Chechens and people from Russia's Northern Caucasus.

The incidents came days after a fight between ethnic Russians and ethnic Chechens in a Chechen-owned restaurant left at least two people dead.

Alexander Vekhorovsky, head of the Moscow-based human rights center Sova, said dozens of residents and right-wing nationalists descended on Kondopoga, and attacked the restaurant with metal bars and firebombs on September 1. The Russian news agency Interfax says at least eight Chechens and others from the Caucasus were injured. Witnesses said police fired into the air to stop the clash.

The mob later reportedly destroyed a bazaar run mainly by Chechens. Police reinforcements have been sent to Kondopoga.

(AP, Interfax)

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