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Heavy Fighting Continues Around Chechnya

Moscow, May 13 (RFE/RL)-- Russian forces in Chechnya said today they have killed 30 Chechen separatist fighters and detained eight others in the South of the breakaway republic.

The Itar-tass news agency quoted Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, commander of Russian Defense Ministry troops in Chechnya, as saying that the Chechens had been killed during a special operation in the Shatoi district.

The report did not say when the operation had taken place and could not be independently confirmed. There was no reaction from the Chechen side.

Our correspondent in Chechnya reports that Russian troops this morning blocked the road that leads from Shali to the Chechen stronghold of Vedeno. Russian artillery is shelling Vedeno.

Meanwhile, at least four Russian soldiers were killed and and 13 others were wounded in fighting in Grozny and near the Southern village of Urus-Martan during the last 24 hours.

Urus Martan was the target of Russian rocket attacks at the week-end and the Russian chief commander in Chechnya, Gen. Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, says that Chechen fighters are hiding in the village.

Itar-Tass reports that pro-Moscow Chechen representatives today began checking civilian's passports in the village. And Russian troops today launched a major operation to search for Chechen separatists hiding in the Chechen capital, Grozny.