Official escapes Chechyna car bomb attack

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The Independent Online

A car bomb exploded today in Chechnya's second largest city, narrowly missing a pro-Moscow official known for her strong anti-rebel stance.

A car bomb exploded today in Chechnya's second largest city, narrowly missing a pro-Moscow official known for her strong anti-rebel stance.

Malika Gazimiyeva, administration head for the city of Gudermes, escaped with minor injuries, said an official in the pro-Moscow Chechen administration based in Gudermes.

The explosives were packed in a parked car on a street leading to her office, and apparently detonated by remote control. Her driver and bodyguard were injured in the attack and taken to a hospital.

Gazimiyeva is among a small group in Chechnya who ardently support Russia's campaign to smash a rebel insurgency.

While most of the population waffles on support for one or another rebel band, or for the independence movement generally, nearly all Chechens oppose the Russian bomb and artillery campaign that has killed and maimed civilians.

Gazimiyeva is reported to have once said that Chechen women should be killed because they give birth to militants and has been the target of previous attacks.

Along with skirmishes and ambushes on roads and in Chechnya's mountains, rebels also have attacked officials of Moscow-backed administrations.

Rebel attacks killed 12 Russian soldiers over the past 24 hours, the Gudermes official said. Another two Russian policemen were killed today in an ambush in the Urus-Martan district, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

In a separate incident, a soldier was found unconscious in the village of Borozoi with a cut on his chest in the shape of a crescent and star, symbols used by the Islamic militants.

The soldier had wandered from his base the day before and doctors said he had apparently been knocked unconscious before the symbol was carved into him.

Russian troops retaliated with artillery barrages at suspected rebel bases in the forests and on mountain slopes in the Urus-Martan, Nozhai-Yurt and Kurchaloi district of southern Chechnya.

The military said two soldiers died and five were wounded in a firefight yesteday, which saw Russian soldiers pinned down near their armored personnel carrier for two hours waiting for reinforcements.

The attack occurred in the center of the capital Grozny, a few minutes' drive from Russia's main military base in Chechnya at Khankala. Initial military reports said five soldiers were wounded and none killed.

Russian troops moved into Chechnya in September 1999 after rebels based there invaded neighboring Dagestan and after apartment building bombings that killed 300 people in Moscow and two other cities. The government blamed the bombings on Chechen rebels.

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