Confusion Surrounds Rebel Attack

NAZRAN, Ingushetia -- Two federal soldiers were killed in an ambush in Ingushetia on Saturday, authorities said, and unofficial sources said the death toll could be much higher.

A spokeswoman for the regional Interior Ministry said a 10-vehicle column of Interior Ministry troops was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic gunfire, killing two soldiers and wounding nine.

A regional law enforcement source said 40 people had died -- all but one soldier in the column.

"This is not true," the Interior Ministry spokeswoman said.

The Interior Ministry spokeswoman said the convoy had come under fire near the villages of Muzhichi and Galashki, about 25 kilometers east of the regional capital, Nazran, and almost within sight of the border with Chechnya.

A Muzhichi resident, reached by telephone, said troops had sealed off the village and were checking passports while two helicopters circled overhead.

An opposition web site -- which moved from Ingushetiya.ru to Ingushetia.org after its owner, Magomed Yevloyev, was shot dead in police custody seven weeks ago -- said the toll was higher than 40 and troops had been killed in two separate attacks. About 50 soldiers died in the first attack, the web site said. Two more were killed when another convoy, sent to reinforce the first, came under attack, it said.

The Interior Ministry spokeswoman said there had been only one convoy.