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Chechnya: Russian Troops Pound Rebel Positions

Moscow, 19 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- An official in the pro-Russian Chechen administration told AP that Russian troops today pounded rebel bases in Nozhai-Yurt, Vedeno, and Itum-Kale districts. The official said that Chechen rebels fired on Russian positions 17 times during the last day. He said one police officer was killed and three were wounded yesterday in an ambush in the Chechen capital Grozny. Two soldiers were also killed by a mine in the Urus-Martan district.

But the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, Anatolii Kvashnin, said he thought the war was coming to an end. He said the Chechen rebels are like "a wounded animal that has been driven into a corner."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Daghestan police said that yesterday's remote-controlled mine explosion was an attempt to destabilize the social-political situation in the Russian republic.

Russian officials said that seven soldiers were killed in the explosion near the regional capital of Daghestan, which borders Chechnya. Rebels in Daghestan are saying they killed 13 Russian soldiers in an attack.