Russia to hunt killers of embassy staff killers

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The Independent Online

Russia vowed that the killers of four kidnapped members of the Russian embassy staff in Iraq '"would not escape revenge", as the upper house of parliament authorised President Vladimir Putin to send armed forces or security agents abroad to stop terrorists. The legal stamp of approval for overseas operations came after the Russian leader last week ordered special forces to hunt down and "destroy" those who carried out the murders, which an al-Qa'ida-linked group has admitted.

The Federation Council backed the resolution as required by the constitution and anti-terror legislation, by 148-0. The four Russians, who included the embassy's third secretary, Fyodor Zaitsev, were seized in early June near the Russian embassy in Baghdad after an attack on their car in the Mansour district. A fifth Russian embassy worker was killed in the abduction.

Yesterday the Russian foreign ministry reaffirmed the goal of tracking down the embassy workers' killers, although it said that the first task was to find the victims' bodies and give them a proper burial at home. "This is our sacred duty toward our tragically killed colleagues, their relatives and friends," the ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said. "In addition, we have to punish the terrorists as they deserve. They should not under any circumstances escape revenge."