INTRO: Russian military officials say they expect to
establish control over two villages, Chabanmakhi and
Karamakhi, held by Islamic militants in Dagestan.
Moscow correspondent Eve Conant reports a rebel leader
says militants have withdrawn from positions in the
western Novolakskoye area, but Russia claims fighting
still continues in the region.
TEXT: Chechen fighter Shamil Basaev, who has led
insurgents in Dagestan, told reporters his fighters
have completely withdrawn from the Novolakskoye
He also denied any link between his fighters and two
recent explosions in Russia -- one in an apartment
block in Dagestan that killed more than 60 people, and
another in a Moscow apartment building in which more
than 90 died.
But the Chechen leader says his forces will continue
to fight the Russian army and that his men have simply
retreated to previously determined positions. He
vowed to continue the fight until, as he put it -- our
people are freed from Russian occupation.
Russian military officials say despite the rebel
leader's statements, heavy fighting continued (Sunday)
in the Novolakskoye area.
/// OPT REST FOR LONG///
Russian news agencies report the Russian flag has
already been raised in the village of Karamakhi and
that a clean-up operation to rid the area of
insurgents will soon be completed.
The insurgents, who crossed into Dagestan from
neighboring Chechnya, want to establish an independent
Islamic state in Dagestan. The rebels call themselves
holy warriors fighting Russian control in the North
Rebel leader Shamil Basayev was a prominent field
commander during Russia's 1994-1996 civil war with
Chechnya that ended in de-facto independence for the
breakaway region. (SIGNED)
12-Sep-1999 10:45 AM LOC (12-Sep-1999 1445 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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