Grozny Water Deliveries Halted Due to Terrorist Fears




Authorities banned trucks from delivering much-needed water to Grozny on Thursday, saying rebels were preparing to launch terrorist attacks in the devastated Chechen capital.


Troops took the city months ago after nearly leveling it with bombs and artillery. But they have suffered increasing losses in rebel ambushes and bomb attacks.


"We decided to stop deliveries because of the danger there," Alexander Rabadanov, head of the regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry, said on RTR state television from Grozny.


Rabadanov said the ministry was told earlier in the day the rebels were planning a terrorist attack against trucks delivering water to hospitals in the capital.


"It is tense in Grozny, there are more shootings and this is connected to the fact that on April 17 the town of Grozny was opened to those with the necessary documents," he said.


Doctors have warned that the lack of fresh drinking water could cause ill health and disease in Grozny, where many Chechens have returned to find their homes destroyed.


But Moscow, increasingly wary of security in the region, says it has to take precautions because Chechen fighters disguised as civilians are traveling freely in the region by day and launching attacks on its bases during the night.


Four Interior Ministry troops were killed in Grozny on Thursday when their car hit a mine, Itar-Tass said.


Chechen rebel spokesman Movladi Udugov, speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location, said eight servicemen had been killed in what he said was as an attack by a commando squad on a federal checkpoint.


Itar-Tass quoted police officials in Chechnya as saying the blast had wrecked a police car as it drove past a checkpoint. It said investigators believed the mine had been made from an artillery shell and was remote-controlled.


Chechen commandos detonated two artillery shells, Udugov said, before spraying the policemen with bullets. He said the rebels had also hit an armored personnel carrier before withdrawing.


Federal officials have played down reports of close combat across the republic, and Thursday a Defense Ministry spokesman denied an Interfax report that troops were battling more than 100 rebels near the town of Argun.