Nine soldiers killed as Russians clash with Chechen rebels

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The Independent Online

Eight Russian soldiers and one police officer have been killed in clashes with Chechen rebels. Russian air attacks struck suspected rebel bases in the southern Vedeno district, and artillery pounded the Vedeno, Itum-Kale and Kurchaloi districts, an official in Chechnya's Moscow-backed civilian administration said. Rebels had fired on Russian positions 13 times in 24 hours, killing two troops and wounding six, he added.

Eight Russian soldiers and one police officer have been killed in clashes with Chechen rebels. Russian air attacks struck suspected rebel bases in the southern Vedeno district, and artillery pounded the Vedeno, Itum-Kale and Kurchaloi districts, an official in Chechnya's Moscow-backed civilian administration said. Rebels had fired on Russian positions 13 times in 24 hours, killing two troops and wounding six, he added.

During a security sweep in the village of Petropavlovskaya on the outskirts of Grozny, the Chechen capital, a group of rebels opened fire on Russian troops, killing two and wounding two. The rebels escaped.

Also in Grozny, police tried to stop a car but the people inside opened fire, killing one officer. Two rebels in the car were also killed, the official said. In the village of Eshilkhotoi in the Vedeno district, two troops were killed and three wounded in a clash with rebels and two Russian sappers were killed by an explosion as they were attempting to defuse a mine.

The ITAR-Tass news agency said a pregnant woman said to be a suicide bomber detained on Sunday has died of gunshot wounds. She was in a truck with two others when police stopped them. Officers say the people in the truck fired on them. Two men were killed. The woman was wounded and was said to have been wearing a belt filled with 3lb of a plastic explosive, with a detonator and a remote-control trigger device.

Russian forces have been in Chechnya for nearly four years, punctuated by apartment-house bombings in Russian cities that killed more than 300 people. They were forced to retreat in 1996 after a two-year war, leaving the region de facto independent.

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