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Russia: Military Pounds Rebel Positions In Dagestan

Grozny, 9 September (RFE/RL) - Russian aircraft and artillery continue to pound Islamic rebel positions in western Dagestan in a bid to repel an insurgency led by Chechen fighters. Reports say hundreds of Russian army and Interior Ministry troops bound for the border area with Chechnya are pouring into the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala. Reuters says the heaviest fighting is located around the village of Gamiyakh. Russian media today said a Russian SU-25 low-flying attack aircraft crashed in southern Dagestan. The pilot reportedly ejected and was rescued by army units. Rebels claim to have shot the plane down, but there was no official word on the cause of the crash. The Chechen Presidential Office said Russian planes last night bombed several border villages inside Chechnya for a fourth night. Russian officials could not confirm the raids. Russia accuses Chechens of masterminding the recent incursion, which has unleashed the heaviest fighing in the region since the 1994-96 Chechen war. The rebels are fighting to establish an Islamic state.