Russians run into counter-attack from Chechens

ENTRENCHED REBELS kept advancing Russian forces out of the coveted centre of Chechnya's capital, Grozny, yesterday, while militants attacked federal troops blocking rebel supply routes in the southern mountains. Elsewhere in the breakaway republic, Russian troops failed to pierce guerrilla defences in eastern Chechnya and reported rebels were attacking the Russian-held north.

The Russians pushed on with their six-day-old offensive to seize Grozny, though commanders said they were moving cautiously because the roads were heavily mined. Russian artillery battered the city from all sides, and the military said Russian jets flew 12 combat missions over Grozny in 24 hours. The Russian military reported fierce fighting in the capital's eastern districts, where federal forces have been trying to establish control. But there was no sign in central Grozny of Russian forces or allied, pro-Moscow Chechen militia.

At least 15 oil wells were ablaze on the southern edge of the capital, sending black columns of smoke billowing into the air. "All Russian attempts to reach the city centre have failed," Mumadi Saidayev, chief of staff of the Chechen forces, said yesterday. "In some areas, we have managed to push the Russians back. We have left some quarters on the outskirts because they were difficult to defend."

The Chechen President, Aslan Maskhadov, said: "The military initiative rests entirely in the hands of the defenders of Grozny." He dismissed reports that the militants were preparing to abandon Grozny. Russian forces have seized the northern half of Chechnya and surrounded Grozny, the last big city still held by the rebels and the greatest political trophy. Commanders say they are focusing on the rugged southern mountains, where rebels are waging a guerrilla campaign from their well-hidden cave bases.

In southern Chechnya, rebels tried to break through the Russian blockade of a key road the militants had used to ferry supplies from neighbouring Georgia, said Colonel Sergei Bundarev, a Russian border guards commander. He said the rebels were stopped, and no troop casualties were reported. Russian forces were also fighting to take control of two mountain villages on Chechnya's eastern border with the Russian republic of Dagestan - Zandak- Ara and Zandak. Twelve rebels were killed and two of their military vehicles were destroyed on Wednesday, said a Russian Ministry of Defence spokesman. (AP)

t Russia says theUS President, Bill Clinton, wants to visit Moscow in the spring, but the White House said there was no such trip planned. It would be Mr Clinton's first visit since a worsening in ties over the Kosovo crisis and Chechnya.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
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: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas