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Russian Command Says It Holds Part of Bamut

Moscow, May 21 (RFE/RL) -- The Russian command reports that Russian troops have taken control of the northern part of the Chechen separatist stronghold of Bamut, in western Chechnya.

The Russian defense ministry says its troops captured the northern part of Bamut last night. Correspondents from Russia's NTV television station confirm the report. The Russian command says that three Russian servicemen have been killed in clashes with separatists over the last 24 hours. Five Russian soldiers were reported wounded.

Russian troops, concentrated in western and eastern Chechnya, are gradually moving south, where Chechen fighters are mostly based. Separatists nevertheless continue to attack Russian forces on several fronts. Interfax reports today that Chechen fighters have been active on the railroad between Grozny and Gudermes, the republic's second largest city, 40 km east of the capital.