MOSCOW -- Russian troops along the Chechen border were placed on increased alert Saturday following the abduction of the Interior Ministry's top envoy in the breakaway republic.
Maj. Gen. Gennady Shpigun was taken captive Friday by masked men who boarded his plane as it was about to depart from the Chechen capital, Grozny, for Moscow.The Interior Ministry is responsible for internal security in Russia and has its own paramilitary force in addition to regular police.
Chechnya, which fought a 1994-1996 war with Russia, handles its own affairs, but no nation recognizes its claim of independence.
Shpigun's plane, belonging to the private Chechen airline Askhab-Air, was stopped on the tarmac of Grozny airport by five armed men, who seized him.
An intensive search Saturday failed to turn up any clues to Shpigun's whereabouts.
Witnesses said the kidnappers called their captive an "enemy of Allah" and said they would exchange him for two Chechen women recently convicted for a bombing attack in southern Russia.