Sun, May 25, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Six men die as fighting in Chechnya continues

AP , VLADIKAVKAZ, RUSSIA

Six federal servicemen were killed and 14 wounded in heavy fighting in Chechnya, an official in the Moscow-backed Chechen administration said on Friday. Seven rebels were also killed, the official said.

Federal aircraft flew bombing raids over the mountainous Vedeno district, and federal forces detained at least 160 people on suspicion of rebel ties, the Chechen official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The persistent daily fighting, along with the two deadly suicide attacks earlier this month, belie the Kremlin's insistence that peace is taking hold in the separatist republic after more than three-and-a half-years of war. Such claims increased after a March referendum in which Chechens overwhelmingly approved a Kremlin-backed Constitution that confirms Chechnya's status as part of Russia.

Early Friday, rebels clashed with Russian soldiers in two separate battles, leaving three soldiers dead and four wounded, the Chechen administration official said. Seven rebels were also killed.

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