TITLE=RUSSIA CLASH (L)
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
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)
03-Aug-1999 07:05 AM LOC (03-Aug-1999 1105 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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