Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russia: Contradictory Reports Make Situation in Chechnya Unclear

Grozny/Moscow; 13 December 1999 (RFE/RL) - Chechen and Russian officials today offered contradictory reports about fighting in Chechnya. Emir Abdulwahid, a representative of Chechen commander Shamil Basayev, told reporters that Chechen forces had retaken a military airport at the edge of Grozny. Abdulwahid said Russian troops continued to shell Grozny, including areas set aside for a corridor for refugees.

Russian military officials (unnamed) said they could not confirm or deny that the Chechens had retaken the airport.

Abdulwahid said Chechen fighters had shot down one Russian jet and two helicopters over the Argun gorge. Russian officials said the jet crashed due to a "technical malfunction."

Correspondents on the scene say Russian forces today continued air, missile and artillery attacks elsewhere in Chechnya, particularly in the area of Argun.

Russian officials said their forces had surrounded the town of Shali and were preparing to enter. Chechen officials said their fighters had abandoned the town on Friday, although groups of fighters could still be there.

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said in Moscow that Russian troops would stay in Chechnya permanently.