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Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Saturday, 26 January 2008

Clashes erupt at Ingushetia rally

Serdalo newspaper offices in Nazran, Ingushetia, after being burned by protesters
Serdalo newspaper's offices were set alight

Police have clashed with anti-government protesters in the Russian region of Ingushetia, firing over their heads and swinging batons.

Protesters threw stones at police and set fire to at least two buildings in the main town of Nazran.

The demonstration had been banned by Russia's security services, which have imposed emergency measures in response to a number of attacks and abductions.

Muslim Ingushetia borders Chechnya and has suffered from overflowing unrest.

There is a low-level insurgency, with regular small-scale ambushes against police and soldiers.

Election anger

The Federal Security Service (FSB) on Friday brought in "counter-terrorist" measures, and on Saturday morning the central square in Nazran had been cordoned off.

As a few dozen protesters tried to break through the cordon, police forced them back with batons and tear gas.

Stones and petrol bombs were thrown at police, who fired shots over the heads of the crowd.

Map

Some were severely beaten by police and dragged off to waiting vans.

Police would not say how many people had been taken away. The Ekho Moskvy radio station said two of its journalists were among those detained.

Protesters set fire to a hotel and the offices of a local newspaper which has been accused of sympathising with the government of Kremlin-backed President Murad Zyazikov.

The activists were complaining about the government's policies, security service crackdowns, and the alleged vote-rigging in December's election, in which Mr Zyazikov's pro-Putin was declared to have won 99% of the vote.

The authorities threatened to come down hard on their opponents.

"Everyone even indirectly involved in organising this protest will be severely punished," regional Interior Minister Musa Medov told The Associated Press.



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