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Chechen Rebels Forced To Retreat In Several Areas

Grozny, 29 December 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Chechen rebels say they were forced to retreat in several areas of the breakaway Russian republic today. Spokesmen for the Chechens told western media (AFP, Reuters) that rebel forces retreated from key highlands in the capital Grozny and the southern mountains. But Chechen rebel spokesman Movladi Udugov told Reuters that they pushed back Russian forces in another mountain area. He also claimed that rebels have killed a large number of Russian troops in Grozny.

Russian generals have n-o-t sent tanks or other armored vehicles into Grozny. The federal forces are slowly advancing on foot and attempting to weaken rebel positions with artillery and air strikes when they encounter resistance.

Meanwhile, in Vienna today, the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe repeated his call for an immediate cease fire to prevent further suffering. Chairman Knut Vollebaek of Norway said civilians in Grozny are being subjected to the indiscriminate use of military force. The United Nations refugee office also expressed concern today for the 10,000 to 40,000 civilians trapped in Grozny on the fifth day of the Russian advance.