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Russia: Putin Warns Chechen Militants

Rostov-on-Don/Grozny, 23 September 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says the Russian military will strike at Chechen Islamic guerrillas wherever they are. Putin made the comment today in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, where he held talks with officials about a recent series of terrorist bombings in Russia. Rostov-on-Don is near the site of one of the bombings. Putin's remarks came shortly after Russian planes attacked the airport outside the Chechen capital, Grozny. The Russian Interior Ministry says jets and artillery also pounded suspected rebel strongholds inside Chechnya. Chechen authorities say at least one person -- an airport technician -- was killed and seven people injured in today's raids. The Interior Ministry says Russian troops last night repelled fresh attempts by guerrillas to cross the border into Dagestan. Moscow says Islamic guerrillas -- who twice invaded Dagestan -- are using Chechnya as a base and are preparing to attack a third time. The rebels are attempting to establish an independent Islamic state. Earlier this week, around 30,000 Russian troops sealed off Chechnya by land and air from the rest of the Russian Federation. Moscow blames Chechen-based guerrillas for recent terrorist bombings in Russian cities, which have claimed 300 lives. There have been no credible claims of responsibility.

Russian police say they discovered and neutralized the components for a bomb last night in an apartment building in Ryazan, southeast of Moscow. Moscow police have ringed the capital with 64 checkpoints and are searching vehicles for weapons and explosives.