Three Russian troops killed in Chechenya
Chechen rebels blew up two Russian armoured vehicles in separate attacks today, killing three Russian soldiers and wounding several others, officials for Chechen rebel President Aslan Maskhadov said.
There were no losses on the rebel side, the spokesman said.
Officials at the headquarters of federal Russian forces at Khankala, east of Grozny, quoted by the Interfax news agency, confirmed the first incident, saying that the vehicle had hit a mine, with two soldiers killed and four wounded.
They said another soldier had died in a reconnaissance operation on a motorway a short distance from Shali, 25 kilometres southeast of Grozny.
A deputy commander at Khankala, Alexei Kuznetsov, said Russian forces had killed four rebels including Shamil Iriskhanov, described as a field commander and a deputy of warlord Shamil Basayev, during search operations in the mountainous south of the country.
Another rebel was killed in a search operation in the Shali district, the officials said, noting that a large number of such operation were carried out around the republic over the weekend, with several arms caches unearthed.
Russian troops entered the breakaway republic of Chechnya on October 1st, 1999, to put down a separatist insurgency, in what Moscow has described as an anti-terrorist operation.