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Russian Attacks In Chechnya Reported Continuing

Moscow, April 2 (RFE/RL) - Russian troops reporterdly have bombarded two Chechen strongholds despite a halt to military operations ordered Sunday by President Boris Yeltsin.

Our correspondent in the area says Russian troops used heavy artillery and warplanes in attacks on Benoi and Dargo, 60 kms southeast of the Chechen capital Grozny, last night. Civilians are reported fleeing the area. An AFP correspondent said he saw six busloads of refugees leaving Dargo.

In southwest Chechnya exchanges of automatic gunfire were reported today near the settlements of Bamut, Stary Achkoy and Orekhovo. Itar Tass news agency cites a deputy of the Achkhoy-Martan district, Ruslan Anzhayev, as saying the shooting continued throughout the early hours of this morning. the area around these settlements has been sealed off by Russian troops.

The Russian military command in Chechnya, quoted by Interfax, said there have been no major incidents of fighting since Yeltsin declared a halt to Russian combat actions. But Russia's top commander in Chechnya, General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, has said "special operations" would continue against what he called Chechen terrorists.

Yeltsin's peace plan, which includes a staged troop withdrawal, new elections, and talks on the republic's status within the Russian federation, has been criticised by his opponents who say it contains no new elements. Yeltsin is running for re-election in June.