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Chechnya: Fighting Intensifies Near Grozny

Grozny, 23 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - Correspondents in Chechnya say fighting is intensifying in the district of Urus-Martan as Russian forces try to seal off the last route of retreat for some 5,000 separatist fighters thought to be taking defensive positions within Grozny. Russian troops reportedly have surrounded Grozny on three sides and are about 2 km from the western outskirts of the capital. Russian military officials say they hope to cut off the southern side of Grozny by mid-December. But they say they must first defeat an estimated 3,500 separatist fighters in the district of Urus-Martan.