Moscow, August 1 (RFE/RL) -- Russian warplanes and artillery today battered southeastern Chechnya, killing eight people and injuring 40 others, said Movladi Udugov, Chechen separatist information minister.
Udugov said the casualties occurred when one rocket fired from the air struck the village of Benoi, on the main road to the Chechen separatist stronghold of Vedeno.
He did not say if there was any fighting between Russian forces and Chechen separatists. There was no Russian confirmation of air attacks or a more precise indication of casualties.
Interfax news agency said Chechen separatists today also reported Russian artillery attacks on a broad front from Gudermes, east of the Chechen capital of Grozny, through Shatoi to the southern settlement of Borzoi.
Earlier the press center of the Russian military command in Chechnya said eight Russian soldiers had been killed and 19 wounded in clashes in the last 24 hours. It had reported isolated incidents in the Vedeno area
Fighting in Chechnya, where Russian troops have been deployed since December 1994, has worsened since Russian President Boris Yeltsin was re-elected last month. The increased fighting has further dented international mediators' hopes of peace talks resuming.