A seven-year-old has been flown to Moscow for emergency surgery after authorities in the Caucasus found serious injuries on the girl's body. Officials suspect the child's aunt of beating the girl in her care.
Doctors in Moscow were fighting to save the right hand of seven-year-old girl on Saturday after she apparently suffered a brutal beating earlier this week.
"There are serious injuries in area of the hand, we need to fight to save it," pediatric surgeon Leonid Roshal told reporters in Moscow. "The bloodstream has been very seriously disrupted."
The girl was hospitalized in the southern Russian state of Ingushetia on Thursday, with local doctors diagnosing old rib fractures, vertebrae trauma, and finding possible traces of torture. She was flown to Moscow a day later.
Authorities have detained the girl's aunt on suspicion of committing physical abuse, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. The 35-year-old woman, who is the sister of the child's father, was apparently tasked with looking after the child over the last six months, while the father was away working in a different region of Russia.
The aunt is denying any responsibility.
"The officers have already taken [the aunt] to the drug treatment facility to check if she took psychoactive substances, because a functioning person would not be able to do that to a child," senior child services official Zarema Chahkieva told the Interfax news agency.
Chahkieva also said the girl was communicative and acting "very kindly" towards adults.
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Two more boys at risk
Authorities have located the girl's parents, according the Ingushetian official.
Separately, a source told Interfax two other underage children had been living with the girl's aunt. They were removed from her care after the incident. The two boys were transported to a local hospital for a medical check-up, but doctors did not detect any serious injuries.
The aunt had no legal proof of guardianship over the girl and the family had no permanent place of residence, according to Chahkieva. Russian authorities are now looking into the work afforded by social services in the southern state.