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.