– We were driving on a highway a few hundred meters from the border between Ossetia and Chechnya when our minibus was hit by three or four cars. I thought it was some sort of accident, but then a number of young men jumped out with sticks and started smashing the windows.
Maria Persson Löfgren says that at first she thought men just wanted to score something.
– They shouted “you are terrorists, you are not human rights activists and you are killing our people”. At first we thought that would be enough. But then they get on the bus, pull out my hair, throw me on an iron beam and continue beating me.
The men take Maria Persson Löfgren's bag and continue to beat her and another woman, while some passengers manage to get out of the bus.
– They shout “Do you have cell phones? Do you have cell phones?” and hits us while the others manage to escape through the window of the bus and are therefore not as injured as us.
What do you have time to think about when this happens?
– It was actually completely unexpected, it was a brand new highway with a lot of traffic. That something like this could happen on such a busy road where there is a lot of security, a lot of police and military, is on the one hand very shocking, on the other hand we were able to taste what the people here taste most often. If you are oppositional, if you do not belong to the right clan, you can be affected in this way.
You were then taken to hospital, what kind of injuries did you sustain?
– The driver is mostly bruised, they hit him with sticks and I had a long wound in my thigh when they pulled me out or when they threw me on the iron beam. I also have big bruises on my arms where they hit.
Maria Persson Löfgren says she feels “pretty good anyway”, because things could have been much worse.
– I think all of us who were involved in this thought that it might have happened that they would burn us inside the bus, because they burned it when we got out.
Do you have any idea who could be behind this attack?
– Yes. We are in Ingushetia, where this happened, and everyone here is pointing the finger at neighboring Chechnya, and it is difficult not to agree with that. Because, above all, there is a very harsh government and people do not enjoy major human rights. This was among other things what we were going to talk about and that is why they attacked us.
She says that a minute before the attack, she told her Norwegian colleague that she had the best job in the world.
– I still think I have the best job in the world, but it has become much riskier than before.
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