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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mine Kills 5 Boys in Chechnya

A land mine explosion in a Chechen village killed five boys, adding to a catalog of woes that has led a Chechen official to say that only the introduction of Islamic law can bring order to the republic.

Movladi Udugov, the Chechen vice premier and information minister, told Interfax the explosion Sunday that killed the youths, ages 10 to 12, was deliberate.

"The mine was remote-controlled. It was a premeditated explosion,'' Udugov said of the blast in Berkat-Yurt, seven kilometers southwest of Grozny. "It may be related to a series of terroristic acts carried out in Chechnya recently."

The Russian Interior Ministry disputed that report. Colonel Nikolai Golovnyov, ministry spokesman in Moscow, told Interfax the boys were trying to take apart an artillery shell when it blew up, killing three of them and wounding another.

Udugov saw the incident as part of a chain of violence that has jeopardized the peace process, and for which Chechen officials have said Russia's secret services are responsible. Moscow has denied any involvement and criticized the Chechen leadership for its failure to rein in "banditry" on its territory.

Last week, six Red Cross workers were shot to death in their beds at a hospital compound in a Chechen village, and six Russians were fatally shot at their homes in Grozny. Four members of a Russian family also were killed Friday night in their Grozny home.

Mystery still surrounds the reported kidnapping last week of a delegation from nearby North Ossetia, while a Russian official from the Volgograd region was reported kidnapped during an official visit to Chechnya over the weekend.

Oleg Malishev and his personal driver disappeared in Grozny where they had travelled along with Zaka Dzhabirov, the head of the Volgograd Chechen society. Malishev -- a well known figure in Chechnya -- was in Grozny to help resolve issues connected with the coming elections.

?Seven Chechen rebels were killed and three Russian policemen received wounds in an exchange of fire in North Ossetia Sunday night, Interfax reported. The police had halted the rebels' car at a checkpoint in Prigorodny district.

(AP, Reuters)