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Russia: Unabated Fighting In Chechnya

Moscow, 24 August 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Russian troops and Chechen fighters today continued shooting at each other throughout the separatist republic, with hostilities even spilling out into neighboring Ingushetia. The Russian military said two servicemen were killed and two wounded in several Chechen attacks in Grozny and elsewhere in the republic. Russian news agencies say Russian troops today used rockets to attack suspected Chechen positions in Ingushetia, setting ablaze a large area of forest there. Firefighters and rescuers were called to put out the fire.

RIA quoted a military spokesman as saying that groups of Chechen fighters were coming from training in Afghanistan through Georgia to Chechnya.

Georgian chief of staff of the border guards, Colonel Korneli Salia, said the claim appears to be another provocation by those who want to compromise Georgia.

Georgia has repeatedly denied Russian allegations of providing tacit support for the Chechen side.

Military officials in Moscow said 17 Russian troops died in fighting over the past week, bringing the official number of Russian casualties to 2,640 since the conflict started one year ago. The numbers could not be independently verified.