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New Fighting in Southwestern Chechnya

  • Grigory Krichevsky

Moscow, March 26 (RFE/RL) - Fresh fighting is reported today in southwestern Chechnya, where Russian forces are continuing their assault on separatist positions.

Word on the new fighting comes from the Russian defense ministry. General Nikolai Tkachev said that villages of Bamut, Orekhovo and Stary Achkoi came under attack. Russian troops also were conducting a street by street operation to clear the village of Samashki of separatist fighters.

In the Chechen capital of Grozny, Russian troops fearing a rebel assault tightened security around the city yesterday and brought in reinforcements to guard key buildings.

But the capital was reported relatively quiet, with only three clashes reported since yesterday and most of the fighting taking place in the western part of Chechnya.

Two Russian servicemen were reported killed and another 17 wounded in fighting yesterday. there was no word on separatist losses.

The Russian military has been pursuing the offensive as a prelude to President Boris Yeltsin's pre-election peace initiative. Yeltsin said yesterday he would unveil his plan to end the nearly 16-month war in a nationwide television address Sunday.