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"Large-Scale War" in Chechnya is Over, Lebed Says

Moscow, July 25 (RFE/RL) -- Aleksandr Lebed, Russia's national security chief, said today that "large-scale war in Chechnya" is over and that Russian troops are only engaged in "special operations" against "bandit formations."

Lebed's comments, which echo previous statements by President Boris Yeltsin, came as fighting continued in southern Chechnya.

Itar-Tass quoted the Russian command, which said Russian warplanes had bombed separatist positions overnight near Shatoi, south of the Chechen capital Grozny.

Interfax quoted Russian commander General Vladimir Shamanov, who said air attacks against Shatoi would continue. He said the situation around Bamut, scene of fierce fighting earlier this week, had quieted down. But Shamanov said Russian troops were still trying to dislodge small pockets of resistance around Bamut.

Meanwhile, the pro-Moscow Chechen administration reported that separatists today released 8 of 13 Russian construction workers whom they had seized yesterday in the town of Argun.