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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rebels Stand Anew, Pipeline Destroyed


GROZNY -- Forced from one stronghold by federal troops, Chechen rebels have taken up positions in another village and were battling Russian forces, officials said Thursday.

The separatist fighters shelled Russian troops near Tsentoroi, some 60 kilometers southeast of Grozny late Wednesday, news reports said. Six Russian soldiers were reported killed.

On Wednesday, the Russian military declared victory in the battle for the village of Novogroznensky, claiming Russian troops had virtually wiped out a rebel stronghold there.

But on Thursday, rebel guerrillas in Tsentoroi shelled Russian troops in Novogroznensky, just six kilometers away, said Abdul Bugayev, first vice-premier of the Moscow-backed Chechen government.

In a separate attack early Thursday, saboteurs blew up a natural gas pipeline near Sholkovskaya, close to Chechnya's border with Dagestan, triggering a fierce fire and disrupting supplies from Russia.

Pro-Moscow Chechen officials blamed the early morning attack, the second on an energy installation in Chechnya in two days, on rebels loyal to separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev. There was no immediate word from the guerrillas themselves to substantiate this.

The incident fueled tension in the Moslem territory on the eve of Friday's Chechen day of mourning to mark the 52nd anniversary of the mass deportation of Chechens to Kazakhstan by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1944.

The Moscow-backed Chechen government said it had put 4,000 men on alert for Friday and had reinforced checks at road-blocks in and around Grozny.

Federal troops of the 58th Army Corps have been sent into Ingushetia, an internal Russian republic neighboring Chechnya, without the knowledge of the republic's leadership, Ingush President Ruslan Aushev told Interfax on Thursday. "I want to know on the bases of what constitution this is being done," Aushev said. ()