Grozny, Russia; 29 March 2000 (RFE/RL) - A top Russian commander says Chechen rebels may be regrouping for new attacks on Russian forces. Colonel-General Aleksandr Baranov made the comment yesterday amid reports of hundreds of rebels fighting Russian forces in the village of Tsentoroi in Chechnya's mountains. News agencies also reported fierce clashes in the southeastern Nozhai-Yurt area, near Tsentoroi.
Fierce fighting was also reported near the southwestern village of Alkhazurovo, close to the destroyed settlement of Komsomolskoye. Russian aircraft and artillery shelled suspected Chechen positions in the Argun Gorge.
There were few details about the fighting in Tsentoroi. The federal command said about 1,500 rebels were based in the area, including hundreds in the village itself. The military has said around 3,000 rebels are still fighting around the republic.
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says about 1,000 refugees are still fleeing Chechnya every week, with more than 214,000 currently in Ingushetia.