New York, July 7, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is gravely concerned about the safety of Ali Astamirov, a correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency, who was abducted on Friday, July 4, by unknown armed assailants in Ingushetia, according to sources in Russia.
Astamirov, who previously worked for Chechnya's Grozny Television and reported on Chechnya and Chechen refugees, was based in Ingushetia's capital, Nazran. The journalist was kidnapped while he and two colleagues, humanitarian worker Ruslan Musayev and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) stringer Aslambek Dadayev, were driving through Nazran and stopped for gas. A white vehicle blocked the car, and armed men, wearing masks and camouflage attire, seized the journalists' cell phones, pulled Astamirov out of the car, and drove off. According to Dadayev's account in the Russian press, the abductors drove off in the direction of Chechnya.