TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L)
INTRO: Russian troops and Chechen rebels are battling
for control of a strategic river 25 kilometers north
of the regional capital, Grozny. V-O-A Moscow
correspondent Peter Heinlein reports Chechnya's
president is warning of a full-scale war.
TEXT: Chechen military sources say they inflicted
heavy losses on Russian troops Friday along the north
bank of the Terek River. The fighting is described as
the heaviest since Russian land forces entered the
breakaway region last month.
The report could not immediately be verified, but
the French news agency quotes a Russian defense source
as saying federal troops are encountering strong
resistance in the Terek river region, and have
In separate action, Russia's air force reports
carrying out at least 10 air strikes. A government
spokesman says the targets were rebel bases, supply
dumps and transport routes. But local correspondents
say a village southwest of Grozny was hit, causing
heavy loss of life among residents.
A Russian defense ministry spokesman calls the reports
The government also denied reports that Russian tanks
attacked a busload of civilians earlier this week,
killing 40. Gruesome pictures of the carnage were
broadcast in the West, but there was an almost total
news blackout of the incident in Russian media, and
officials characterized the reports as part of a
campaign aimed at discrediting federal forces.
Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov was quoted Friday as
saying the breakaway region is prepared for an all-out
war. In remarks shown on Chechnya's state-run
television, the former military commander said, "the
situation from a military point of view is far better
than it was in 1994."
Russian troops invaded Chechnya in late 1994 to crush
a rebellion, but withdrew in defeat 21 months later,
leaving the region to govern itself.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has previously vowed to
avoid any repeat of that previous disastrous war. But
Friday he defended the latest incursion into Chechnya,
and refused to rule out the possibility that troops
might try to recapture Grozny.
/// PUTIN ACT IN RUSSIAN, ESTABLISH AND FADE ///
He says, "Chechnya is a territory of the Russian
Federation. Armed forces have a right to take
positions wherever they want."
Russian troops currently occupy about one-third of
Chechnya, mostly low-lying land north of the Terek
River, where they are establishing a buffer zone
against rebel incursions. (Signed)
08-Oct-1999 12:17 PM EDT (08-Oct-1999 1617 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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