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Still Unclear How Many Russians Died In Chechen Assault On Tuesday

Moscow, April 19 (RFE/RL) - It is still unclear just how many Russian servicemen were killed in an ambush by Chechen fighters earlier this week in the breakaway Caucasus republic.

A top Russian military offical, who requested anonimity, told our correspondent in Moscow today that more than 90 Russian soldiers died during the Tuesday attack on a Russian military convoy in southern Chechnya.

The official also said some 90 Russian servicemen were wounded in the ambush near the village of Shatoi. A correspondent for Russia's NTV also reported similar figures. If true, it would be the heaviest one-day losses suffered by Russian troops since they deployed troops in the Caucasus republic in December 1994.

However, the commander of Russian forces in Chechnya, Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, told Itar-Tass today that casualty figures on the attack as reported by Russian media are, in his words, "exaggerated and do not correspond with reality."

Yesterday, Russian officials said 53 of their servicemen were killed, rather than 26 as had been reported initially.