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Chechen Rebels Stage Night Attacks

June 18, 2000

NAZRAN, Russia (AP) _ Russian warplanes bombed high mountain passes near Chechnya’s border with Georgia on Sunday after a night of rebel hit-and-run attacks on federal police posts.

Attack jets and artillery pounded suspected concentrations of rebels in the Argun Gorge near the southern border, the North Caucasus military command’s news service said.

The gorge is a key rebel refuge and supply route to Georgia, the only foreign country bordering Chechnya. Russian forces are trying to cut off and destroy guerrilla bands hiding in the mountains.

Rebels have fought back with attacks by small bands with rifles and grenade launchers.

Overnight rebels fired on two temporary police stations in the Chechen capital, Grozny, and four police checkpoints in the Nozhai-Yurt, Shelkovskaya and Urus-Martan districts, a spokesman for the regional Interior Ministry said Sunday.

The police suffered no casualties, he said.

Deep in the mountains in the village of Sharo-Argun, federal troops searching for rebels seized 42 firearms, 10,000 cartridges, 264 artillery shells, five grenade launchers and 88 pounds of dynamite, the news center said.

Police detained 54 villagers for various violations.

In the neighboring village of Dekhesty, troops unearthed a rebel hide-out and found medicine, civilian clothing and military uniforms.

Troops disarmed three explosive devices Saturday, including a remote-control mine on a bridge in Chernorechye on the outskirts of Grozny, officials said. Other bombs were defused in the Kurchaloi region and in Gudermes, both in western Chechnya.

Two policemen were injured when a bomb went off as they were searching a cellar for weapons Saturday in Grozny, officials said. It wasn’t clear what triggered the bomb.

Remote-control mines have been a favorite rebel weapon recently.

Russian troops were expelled from Chechnya in a 1994-96 war with independence fighters. They re-entered the republic after Islamic militants based there seized several villages in the neighboring region of Dagestan, and after about 300 people died in apartment bombings the government blamed on Chechens.

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