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Chechnya: Russians Resumed Shelling Grozny

Grozny, 13 December 1999 (RFE/RL) -- A report from the Chechen capital Grozny says Russian troops ended a lull in fighting and resumed shelling parts of the city shortly after midnight today. Itar-Tass says troops were using multiple rocket launchers to fire on points in the south of the city. The report could not be confirmed. Russian officials earlier said they would observe a ceasefire in Grozny until midnight to allow residents to leave unharmed. Officials also say they will observe daily cease-fires during daylight hours to facilitate the flow of refugees. Meanwhile, it's not clear how many of the estimated 40,000 people still in Grozny are choosing to leave the city in spite of a Russian threat to use massive force. AFP cites Russian troops as saying 700 people left the city through a special safety corridor on Saturday night, but other sources say the figure is much lower. Grozny's mayor (Lecha Dudayev) has said residents may be too old or sick to leave. Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin last night said attempts to negotiate a peace settlement with Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov had failed. He told Russian television (ORT) international criticism of the war in Chechnya was simply the West's way of getting revenge for Russia's opposition to NATO bombing in Kosovo.