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Chechnya: Russian Soldiers, Chechen Fighters Die In Fighting

Grozny, 21 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Six Russian soldiers were killed and eight others wounded in an overnight clash with separatist fighters in southwestern Chechnya. The Russian military says the incident occurred near the village of Dyshne-Vedeno. It also says six Chechen militants were killed in the gunfight.

"A group of 30 rebels attacked a patrol. We killed six bandits but our forces also suffered casualties, six dead and six wounded," Ilya Shabalkin, a spokesman for the North Caucasus military headquarters, told NTV television.

NTV's correspondent in Chechnya said that fighting started around midnight and lasted until dawn.

The official also said that security forces in the Chechen capital Grozny yesterday foiled a major bomb attack outside a Russian government compound in the city's northwest.

He said that police discovered a car with 120 kilograms of explosives in its trunk parked near an entrance to the government complex.

"The homemade explosive device was made in such a way that a suicide bomber would have had to detonate it," Shabalkin said.

The government compound, which houses several ministries and the headquarters of the pro-Moscow Chechen administration, has been targeted twice in recent months.

A month ago, six policemen and two suicide bombers died when a dynamite-laden truck exploded nearby, and in December 2002, 82 people were killed when suicide bombers rammed two vehicles loaded with bombs into the main administration complex.

The Kremlin has called a presidential election in Chechnya on for 5 October.