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Chechens Blame Russians For Attack on Maskhadov

Grozny, July 30 (RFE/RL) -- Russian secret services are behind an assassination attempt on Aslan Maskhadov, the Chechen separatist chief of staff and top military commander, Chechen separatists say.

Movladi Udugov, Chechen separatist spokesman, told Reuters news agency by telephone today that it is "obvious" that the Federal Security Service (FSB) was directly involved in the attack on Maskhadov.

Gunmen opened fire on Maskhadov's car in southeastern Chechnya yesterday. Maskhadov was not hurt, but one of his bodyguards was wounded and one of the attackers killed in the ensuing fighting.

The body of one of the attackers, found later in the woods, was that of a Chechen man known to be "an active collaborator" with the Russian secret service, said Udugov.

Sergei Slipchenko, spokesman for Russia's State Commission on Chechnya, today blamed the attempt on Maskhadov on Salman Raduyev. In comments carried by the Itar-tass news agency, Slipchenko said Raduyev has come out against the peace negotiations.

He said Raduyev could have been trying to prevent a meeting between Maskhadov and the Russian commander of the North Caucasus region, Anatoly Kvashnin. Slipchenko announced yesterday that the meeting would take place within the next two days.

The State Commission on Chechnya is due to meet in Moscow later today to review the situation.

Meanwhile, Russian news agencies this morning quote the federal command as saying Russian forces in Chechnya came under attack eight times in the last 24 hours. The command said two Russian soldiers were killed and 17 wounded. The report could not be independently confirmed.

Interfax news agency reports heavy fighting today near Bamut in southwestern Chechnya. It says Russian planes carried out air raids near Bamut.

Chechen separatist forces have been trying for a week to take the town. Udugov, the Chechen separatist spokesman, said 15 civilians died in the fighting.

The agency also says Sergei Stepashin, Russian Nationalities Minister, and Vyacheslav Mikhailov, head of the State Commission on Chechnya, plan to visit the Chechen capital, Grozny, this week to meet local Russian military representatives and officials of the pro-Moscow government.