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DATE=3/6/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / CHECHNYA (L) NUMBER=2-259873 BYLINE=EVE CONANT DATELINE=MOSCOW CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A Chechen rebel unit has reportedly surrendered to Russian troops as both sides battle for control of Chechnya's southern mountains. Moscow Correspondent Eve Conant reports a rebel commander is quoted as saying his men surrendered after they were unable to break through federal lines to escape. TEXT: The Interfax news agency reports more than 70 Chechen rebels have laid down their arms as fighting rages in the Argun Gorge, a strategic canyon that cuts through Chechnya's mountains to the Georgian border. The report says several dozen surrendered outright, and more than 40 injured rebels were captured by Russian forces. A top Russian commander said Monday that rebels controlled two small areas in the mountains, but that federal troops were establishing firm control of the Argun and Vedeno gorges. Russian news agencies quote military sources as saying federal troops had fought off an attack by Chechen rebels near the village of Komsomolskaya in the Argun Gorge. But a report by the Associated Press says the village was seized by rebels late Sunday. A top Russian Commander, Gennady Troshev, said as many as one-thousand rebels had been killed by Russian troops in the past days. But both rebels and Russia's military have tended to exaggerate enemy casualties. Commander Troshev said Sunday that dozens of Russian troops had been killed in recent fighting in the Argun Gorge, but that the rebels are scared. /// ACT TROSHEV IN RUSSIAN IN FULL AND FADE UNDER /// He says - the rebels are no longer thinking about amnesty - they are simply running away in groups of three or five to escape or hide in small villages. He said other rebels are waiting until the snow melts when fighting would be easier. Other news agencies say Russian authorities are under- reporting federal losses as they continue to battle for Chechnya's mountainous south. Chechen rebels have been forced into the mountains, but pledge to carry out a guerrilla war against Russian troops. /// OPT /// Successful hit-and-run attacks in Russian-controlled territories have embarrassed Russian authorities and resulted in a growing death toll for Russian forces. Russia's Armed Forces Chief of Staff estimates there are as many as five-thousand rebels operating inside Chechnya. Rebel commanders have put that estimate closer to 20-thousand. Neither estimate could be independently confirmed. /// END OPT /// A mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has postponed a trip to Chechnya for several days due to security concerns. The mission was supposed to depart Monday for Chechnya to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in the breakaway republic. (SIGNED) NEB/EC/GE/LTD/rae 06-Mar-2000 10:53 AM EDT (06-Mar-2000 1553 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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