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Slain Red Cross Workers Mourned

Grozny, 19 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Flags flew at half-mast today across Chechnya as a day of mourning was observed for six Red Cross workers killed two days ago.

Unknown gunmen on Tuesday entered a Red Cross field hospital in Novye Atagi, 20 kilometers south of the capital, Grozny, and shot the workers as they slept.

The bodies of the victims, five of whom were women, were flown back to Geneva today in coffins draped in Red Cross flags. They were met by grieving colleagues and relatives who held a subdued farewell ceremony on the tarmac.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin yesterday expressed shock over the killings and has ordered a thorough investigation into the slayings. Russian and Chechen officials have blamed the deaths on opponents of the peace process. The Red Cross has suspended activities in Chechnya until better security can be guaranteed.

First Deputy Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Chechen government, Movladi Udugov today said events over the last few days demonstrate that the "war is not over."

Yesterday, unidentified gunmen shot six people from an ethnically mixed Russian-Chechen family in the Chechen capital Grozny.

Udugov said the events are aimed at completely depriving "the Chechen people of the support of the world community and Russian society."