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Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov 1 August 2004 -- Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov reportedly is vowing to kill the person who wins Chechnya's presidential election later this month.

The statement was posted on a website used by the separatists and it also threatened to kill other pro-Moscow politicians.

The election, scheduled for 29 August, is being held to replace pro-Moscow President Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, who was assassinated in a bombing carried out by Chechen separatists in Grozny in May.

Maskhadov's statement promised a change of tactics and "massive operations" that would increase attacks on Russian forces and attacks outside of Chechnya.

Meanwhile, 13 Russian service personnel have been reported killed in the past day of fighting in Chechnya. An official of the Moscow-backed Chechen administration -- speaking on condition of anonymity -- told the AP that six Russian troops were killed when separatist rebels attacked their posts.

The official said another soldier was killed when his truck hit a land mine in the Chechen capital Grozny, and three Federal Security Service officers were killed when their vehicle came under fire, also in the capital.

The official said three Chechen police officers were killed when their patrol was hit by gunfire. Chechnya is preparing for a presidential election next month. Human-rights groups have warned that the continuing violence and frequent security sweeps make a free and fair election campaign practically impossible.

(Reuters/AP)
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