November 24, 2009 / 12:28 PM / 10 years ago

Russian officials beheaded in N. Caucasus-Ifax

MOSCOW, Nov 24 (Reuters) - A police investigator and a court bailiff were found beheaded in a car trunk in Russia’s mainly Muslim region of Kabardino-Balkaria, Interfax said on Tuesday, underscoring spreading violence on Russia’s southern flank.

The killings follow a spate of attacks on power stations and police posts in Kabardino-Balkaria, which is close to the Ingushetia region where rights group say Islamist militants and government forces are effectively at war.

The two beheaded men were discovered in a Mercedes late on Monday in the town of Chegem, about 10 km (six miles) north of the regional capital Nalchik, the news agency reported, citing law enforcement services.

Political analysts say that relatively peaceful Kabardino-Balkaria could fall victim to rising violence in Ingushetia and nearby Chechnya, where Moscow has fought two separatist wars in the last 15 years.

Last month Ingush opposition campaigner Maksharip Aushev was shot dead in Kabardino-Balkaria while on a visit to relatives.

Following a trip to Chechnya and Ingushetia, Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, said the situation in the region was worrying.

"Increased activity by illegal armed groups, the lack of effective investigations into disappearances and killings, and murders of human rights activists are of particular concern," he said in a report released on Tuesday. (Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Jon Boyle) ((amie.ferris-rotman@reuters.com, +7 495 775 12 42, Reuters Messaging: amie.ferris-rotman.com@reuters.net))

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