Moscow bombs Chechen capital

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The Independent Online
RUSSIAN JETS dropped bombs in and around Chechnya's capital, hitting an airport, oil refinery and radar complex in the first big raid on Grozny since the 1994-96 Chechnya war. A man working on an aircraft was killed in the attack and fires broke out at the oil refinery, but no other casualties were immediately reported.

The raids are an extension of the growing conflict between Russian forces and Islamic militants operating from Chechnya, and have heightened worries of another war. The Chechen government, which says that it does not back the militants, has warned it would hit back against any Russian attacks on its territory.

In the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, near the site of a bomb blast that ripped through an apartment building last week, Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, dismissed fears that a new war was imminent. He was speaking to Russian reporters.

Authorities have linked the bomb and three others in Russia, which have left 300 people dead, to the Islamic militants in southern Russia. Russia has launched several artillery and air strikes against suspected rebel bases since last month, when militants crossed from Chechnya into Dagestan and seized several villages.

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