Siberian environmentalists camp attacked

A vicious group attack on environmentalists protesting against a chemical plant in Russia's Irkutsk region has left one person dead and at least seven people injured. Police have arrested six people, who were thought to be among the 13 attackers described

They face charges of assault leading to death. The attackers emerged from the forest around 5 a.m. local time. The sleeping campers didn't have time to run.

“They were obviously prepared; they jumped out and immediately started beating everyone up, trampling the tents, beating the tents and cutting them with knives,” Andrey Kravchenko, an environmentalist, said.

It is thought there were up to 15 attackers and their approach was systematic.

“The first men to be attacked were those who were on guard, and one of them was severely beaten and later died.  Many others were injured. The attackers beat the women and the girls, some of them got their hands broken,” Mr Kravchenko added.

The camp was established in July near the Russian city of Angarsk to protest against nuclear waste reprocessing at a local chemical plant.

Around 20 environmentalists were there to organise regular protests.

Russia's Atomic Energy Agency who runs the plant has expressed deep regret over the attack.

The campers – many thought to be from environmental groups – say they were aware of the possible danger.

A criminal case has now been opened against the attackers, they are accused of assault leading to death.

Those arrested deny any connection to extremist organisations – but witness accounts describe them as skinheads, and say they shouted fascist slogans.

Both the man who died and one who was seriously injured were known to be from Russia's Far East.

Officials say they have not been able to confirm a motive.

“As yet the investigation has no basis to connect the attack to the activity of environmental organisations. We are still piecing together what happened – a version linked to hooliganism is being looked into. But I would like to repeat that the investigation is still going on, and we have not ruled out that additional facts may come to light,” said Valery Gribakin, from Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs.