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DATE=8/3/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA CLASH (L) NUMBER=2-252427 BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Twelve people have been killed in a gun battle between Russian police and guerrillas from the breakaway Chechnya region. V-O-A's Peter Heinlein reports from Moscow. TEXT: Officials in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan say a band of about 40 gunmen attacked a police post overnight in a remote and mountainous region near the border with Chechnya. Four security officers and eight of the attackers were killed during a furious three-hour gun battle. Three other police officers are reported missing. They are believed to have been captured by the gunmen. A spokesman says the surviving attackers fled on foot when police reinforcements arrived. The ITAR-Tass news agency reports authorities recovered three bullet-riddled vehicles belonging to the gunmen. The incident was described as one of the worst outbreaks of violence this year along the border between Chechnya and Dagestan. But authorities say there have been almost daily clashes between Russian forces and heavily armed Chechen militants during the past few months. An interior ministry spokesman reported a similar clash the previous night in which one man was killed. The spokesman says the attacks are the work of Islamic militants operating out of the breakaway Caucasus mountain region. Chechnya has been effectively independent of Moscow's control since Russian troops pulled out in 1996 after a 21-month war with local guerrillas. But the Chechen government has not been able to control gangs of heavily armed fighters left over from the war. And the region has become a center for frequent kidnappings and terrorist bombings, including several attempts to assassinate the region's president. Russia recently upgraded its forces around Chechnya and began launching pre-emptive strikes against Chechen rebel bases. (Signed) NEB/PFH/JWH/KL 03-Aug-1999 07:05 AM LOC (03-Aug-1999 1105 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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