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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

German TV Says Russia Tested 'Vacuum Bomb' in Chechnya

BERLIN -- A German television news magazine reported Wednesday that Russia tested a new "vacuum bomb" during its war in Chechnya, killing hundreds of villagers by creating a sudden vacuum over a large area.

The program on state-supported ARD television quoted military expert Terry Gander from Jane's Infantry Weapons journal as saying Russia is the only power in the world with such a weapon, which the Soviets began working on in the 1950s.

In Moscow, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told The Associated Press he had no information on the use of such weapons in Chechnya.

According to the television report, the bomb is dropped with a parachute and explodes about 20 meters above the ground. It sprays aerosol drops over a large area, which then burn so rapidly that a vacuum is created within a radius of 100 meters, leveling buildings and collapsing the lungs of anyone in the area. A second shock wave, when air rushes back in, causes more damage.

Those killed show no external injuries, the report said.

In "tests" of the bomb in Chechnya, hundreds of people were killed and at least one village, Samashki, wiped out, the report said, quoting Chechen doctors and witnesses and a Russian human rights activist, Andrei Mironov.

Mironov told The Associated Press he brought a parachute from one of the detonated bombs back with him from Chechnya to Moscow. "There can be no doubt" that vacuum bombs were used there, he said.

Mark Daly, news editor of the London-based Jane's Defense Weekly, said he had not heard of the vacuum bombs described in the German TV report. Gander did not immediately return a message left on his answering machine.