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Chechnya: Identity Of Suspects In Chechnya Killings Still Unknown

Moscow, Geneva, 20 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - There was no word this afternoon on the identity or the exact number of people arrested earlier today in Chechnya for suspected involvement in the killings of the six International Red Cross workers.

Abu Movsayev, head of the security service of the self-proclaimed Chechen government, told Itar-Tass earlier today he could not disclose the names of the suspects nor their exact number. But Movsayev said there was "strong evidence" that the murders were politically motivated.

Meanwhile, thousands marched in silent procession through the streets of Geneva today in protest at the death of the Red Cross workers. Earlier at a memorial service at Geneva's Saint Peter's Cathedral, Cornelio Samaruga, President of the Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross, delivered a eulogy of the slain workers. He praised their "solidarity with the victims" of the conflict in the breakaway republic.

The six, five of them women, were slain in their sleep on Tuesday in the village of Novye Atagi, some 20 kilometers south of Grozny. The shootings prompted the Red Cross and other international aid agencies to freeze their operations in the region and pull out their staff.

Both the Russian government and the Chechen separatist authorities have condemned the murders as an attempt to undermine the fragile peace process in the breakaway republic.