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    Investigators to probe abductions in Russia's North Ossetia -1

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    (Recasts, adds additional information in paragraphs 3-6)

    ROSTOV-ON-DON, July 17 (RIA Novosti) - An investigative team has been established in southern Russia to probe a series of abductions in the North Caucasus Republic of North Ossetia, the president's envoy to the southern federal district said Tuesday.

    According to data supplied by the regional interior ministry, 44 people, including 25 Ossetians and 19 Ingushetians, have been kidnapped in North Ossetia since 2005, Dmitry Kozak said.

    Kozak said the version of a gang abducting people as revenge for the Beslan school siege was doubtful.

    In a terrorist attack on Beslan School No. 1 in September 2004, a total of 333 people, including 186 children, were killed and more than 700 wounded.

    Suleiman Vagapov, deputy envoy of the Russian president to the southern federal district, said July 16 that possibly a gang was operating in North Ossetia, which abducted people in revenge for Beslan.

    Meanwhile, Kozak said the version about the gang had been advanced because abductors pursued no mercenary motives.

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