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26 Jan, 2008 19:26

Demonstrators clash with police in Ingushetia

There are reports of clashes between police and demonstrators in the city of Nazran in Russia’s southern republic of Ingushetia. Witnesses say protesters threw rocks and police responded by firing shots above the crowd.

The RIA news agency says the military blocked several street while helicopters circled in the skies above the clashes.  Witnesses reported hearing shooting in the centre of the city.

There have been no reports of injuries.

The demonstrators were protesting against local government in the area.

The authorities say the protesters were denied permisson to hold the rally. The location has been declared a “counter-terrorist zone” after security forces launched an operation against militants in the area. 

Ingushetian Interior Ministry spokesperson, Madina Khadzieva, said about 150 people gathered on Nazran's central square for a meeting.

“The rally was unsanctioned, as it was planned to be held in an unauthorised location. The prosecutor explained exactly what laws the demonstrators had violated. Some ten people were detained for a document check, a number of them have been released, and the rest will be released soon,” she said.

Khadzieva also said the situation in the area had stabilised.

Semyon Eryomin, a local journalist, who was covering the protests, was detained along with other collegues. He said that neither on entering Ingushetia, nor in the time leading up to the detention the media was not informed about the counter terrorist action.

“There were no legal grounds to detain journalists. We were told at Naztan's police station that it wasn't a detention, though we spent almost seven hours there. To be able to work in an area where counter-terrorist opeartion is being held, the press has to get a clearance from the law-enforcement agencies,” Eryomin added.