MOSCOW (Reuters) - A safety corridor to allow residents of the Chechen capital Grozny to flee an impending Russian onslaught is already operating, RIA news agency quoted Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on Tuesday.
RIA quoted Shoigu, who was at the Mozdok military base outside Chechnya, as saying camps had been prepared to accept refugees in areas of Chechnya under Russian control. Russia has told Grozny residents to leave the besieged city by Saturday or face an all-out Russian attack.
Russian planes have been dropping leaflets over Grozny telling residents to leave through a safety corridor by Saturday. The leaflets said those who failed to meet the deadline would be considered rebels and fair targets.
Russian news agencies said earlier on Tuesday that a group of Grozny residents had turned up in the Russian-controlled area asking the military to extend the deadline.
Up to 40,000 civilians are believed to be stranded in Grozny.
RIA quoted Shoigu as saying Emergency Ministry units were ready to accept refugees in the northwestern villages of Sernovodskaya, Assinovskaya and Znamenskaya. There has been no word whether people have started leaving Grozny.
- Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
- For more humanitarian news and analysis, please visit https://www.trust.org/alertnet