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Russia: Fighting In Chechnya Moves To Argun Gorge

Moscow, 8 February 2000 (RFE/RL) - Latest reports from Chechnya say Russian and Chechen forces are battling for control of the Argun gorge, in the south of the separatist republic. Russia's top commander in Chechnya, General Viktor Kazantsev, said today that his forces are concentrating on routing Chechen fighters in the mountains south of the Grozny. The Chechen side confirms heavy fighting at the Argun Gorge with mounting casualties on both sides--but accurate figures are impossible to obtain.

UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, said today she wants to visit the region to draw attention to widespread violations of human rights. The New York-based Human Rights Watch yesterday accused Russian soldiers of executing at least 22 civilians in Grozny--mainly old men and women--during looting sprees last week. The Russian military now claims control of the ruined city. The UN refugee agency says the flow of refugees streaming into neighboring Ingushetia continues to increase, with more than 1,000 refugees a day making the trip.