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Chechen Woman Says Daughter Kidnapped By Authorities

GROZNY (Reuters) - A Chechen mother has accused authorities in the volatile Russian region of kidnapping her daughter, missing for five weeks in what rights groups say is part of a growing trend of abductions.

Forty-year-old Zarema Gaisanova, a native Chechen who worked for the Danish Refugee Council in the regional capital Grozny, was taken from her home on October 31, human rights groups say.

"I want them to give me back my daughter. I know the police and other law enforcement agencies took her away," her mother, Lida Gaisanova, told Reuters by telephone from nearby Ingushetia, where she has fled out of fear for her own safety.

"We are so scared, the neighbors are horrified, absolutely everyone is shaking," she added.

London-based Amnesty International said in a statement that "it appears that law enforcement officials may have been responsible for [Gaisanova's] abduction."

Violence is sharply escalating in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region on Russia's turbulent southern flank, where Moscow has fought two wars against separatists in the last 15 years. The Council of Europe and Amnesty International say abductions and forced disappearances are on the rise.

Asya Malsagova, who heads a state council dealing with the rights of prisoners in Chechnya, said regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ex-rebel turned Kremlin loyalist, was aware of the kidnapping but concrete details were unclear.

Amnesty said that prosecutors told Lida Gaisanova last month her daughter was alive.

"If they know she is alive, where is she?" the mother asked. She said the reason for her daughter's alleged kidnapping was unclear.

Amnesty has called on authorities to order an immediate investigation to establish Gaisanova's whereabouts and fate.

The rights group says most disappearances have been committed by law enforcement personnel, a charge Kadyrov and the government have systematically denied.

The nongovernmental Danish Refugee Council, which has been active in Chechnya since 1997 and in whose logistics department Gaisanova worked, said in a statement it was concerned by her alleged abduction.