Russian troops attack Chechen raiders

PETER GRAFF

Agence France-Presse

Argun - Russian troops attacked Chechen rebels who seized key buildings in the town of Argun, throwing the entire Chechnya peace process into doubt. Heavy artillery and helicopter rocket fire could be heard in the area around the police station and neighbouring buildings which were seized by hundreds of Chechen rebel fighters on Sunday.

Exchanges of fire indicated close-quarter fighting. The noise went on for about three hours, well after Russian authorities in Chechnya announced a successful conclusion to the operation. Residents said civilians were trapped in the besieged neighbourhood and later reports said fighting was spreading.

The leader of the raid, Alaudi Khamzatov, said he had 400 men and that he had been ordered to go back and take control in Argun, 10 miles east of Grozny, by Chechnya's separatist President Dzhokhar Dudayev. Argun was captured by the Russians in March after four months of intensive fighting. Mr Khamzatov was one of the Chechen leaders.

On 30 July, a military accord was reached under which the Chechens were to disarm and most Russian troops were to pull out. But few of the conditions have been fulfiled. Vladimir Yanchenko, the Russian spokesman in Grozny, called the raid on Argun "a gross violation of the military accord". But the Chechen military leader Aslan Maskhadov, who is one of the architects of the peace process, denied on Russian television that the fighters were violating the accord.

"The only thing that happened was that the fighters had gone back to their homes as agreed to in the accord.

The Russian military authorities were apparently informed that the town had been occupied by the fighters.

"The Russian military forces encircled the town and other fighters came to help those with Khamzatov," he said.

Sandor Meszaros, head of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which is mediating the peace talks, called for peace before the battle began.

A Russian ultimatum to surrender by midday passed without incident.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Franchise Operations Manager - Midlands or North West

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The position will be home based...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent publishing and...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue