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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

7 Soldiers Released in Chechnya

Chechen separatists released seven captive Russian soldiers and two civilians Thursday, but continued to hold at least four Russian journalists hostage amid reports of new kidnappings.

The two freed construction workers were seized in December 1995, said Itar-Tass, quoting the federal search and rescue commission.

Separately, the Chechens handed over seven soldiers to a negotiator from the neighboring republic of Dagestan, Magomet Talboyev, Interfax reported.

It said all the soldiers were Dagestani conscripts who were imprisoned by Chechen rebels during the 20-month war against Moscow.

The violence ended with a peace agreement and Russian withdrawal last year, leaving the republic's final political status in dispute.

The Russian side lists about 1,200 soldiers and over a hundred civilians as missing in the conflict.

The Chechens have presented a list of 1,447 missing people.

Both sides assert that they do not hold that many prisoners.

Many of the missing are believed to have been killed, but Chechen rebel groups still are holding some soldiers and civilians, who occasionally are freed in small groups.