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Chechnya leaders 'still in control'

Grozny - The government in the breakaway region of Chechnya said it was still fully in control late yesterday and dismissed claims by Moscow-backed rebels that they had seized the capital, Grozny.

''The government is fully in charge of the situation in Grozny,'' Information Minister Movladi Udugov said in his office at the presidential palace. Itar-Tass news agency earlier quoted the rebels as saying they had seized the palace.

Tass said the rebel leader, Umar Avturkhanov, had appeared on television to claim victory over President Dzhokhar Dudayev, whose whereabouts were unknown. The opposition Provisional Council said its troops took the palace after a day of heavy fighting and that forces loyal to Mr Dudayev were retreating to the town's suburbs. Mr Udugov called the report ''rubbish''. Reuter