Russians run into counter-attack from Chechens
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.
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
World news in pictures
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
Oklahoma tornado: Children trapped in wreckage and at least 91 dead after massive storm rips through suburbs
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
- 3 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 4 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 5 Why Arsène Wenger must spend to put icing on the cake and buy likes of Stevan Jovetic for Arsenal
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£250 - £300 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Front end Developer - Havant -...
Negotiable: Randstad Education London: An Ofsted graded good school are lookin...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Randstad Education Leicester: Please request a copy...
Negotiable: Orgtel: Change Manager, Hampshire, Telecomms, SC Cleared, £200 per...