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Russia6 July 2003

AFP reporter kidnapped in Ingushetia

Reporters Without Borders called today on the Russian authorities to make every effort to find a reporter of the French Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency who was kidnapped in the Russian republic of Ingushetia and to thoroughly investigate how he disappeared.

Chechen journalist Ali Astamirov was accosted by three armed men, two of them wearing masks, in the town of Nazran on 4 July, threatened with a gun and bundled into a white car without numberplates, according to Aslambek Dadayev, who works for Reuters news agency and the US-funded Radio Liberty, and who saw what happened.

"This region has always been a dangerous one for journalists and several have already been kidnapped by armed men," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard, expressing concern at the incident. The prosecutor’s office in Nazran said on 6 July it had launched an enquiry.

Astamirov has worked for AFP for more than a year, covering Ingushetia and Chechya. He had received anonymous threatening phone calls in recent months.

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