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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Troops Exchange Fire On Chechen Border

Russian troops and Chechen fighters exchanged fire at the border of the separatist Russian region in the early hours Friday, Russian and Chechen sources said. They differed widely, however, on details.

Movladi Udugov, Chechnya's foreign minister, said Russian helicopter gunships and armored vehicles attacked the Chechen border overnight and Friday morning.

"Chechen border guards were engaged in combat last night and today in the morning near Borodinovskaya village on the border with [the neighboring Russian region of] Dagestan," Udugov said in a telephone interview.

Udugov said several Chechens had been wounded, some of them critically, and there were unspecified losses on the Russian side as well.

"All responsibility lies with the Russian leadership. It is an infringement of our peace treaty," Udugov said. But another senior minister said there had been no fighting on the border apart from "the usual gunshots."

RIA Novosti, citing police sources, said a Russian police outpost on the Dagestan side of the border came under fire from the direction of the border.

The agency quoted local police as saying there were no casualties and Russian units did not retaliate.

RIA said the crossborder shooting capped a chaotic night in the village on the Dagestani side. One person was killed and another wounded when police tried to quell a drunken brawl. Hundreds of villagers then attacked a local police station.

Chechnya fought a bitter war for independence from Moscow in 1994-96, which ended when Russian troops withdrew. Chechnya claims full independence, although no other country recognizes it as a sovereign state.

Russian politicians have warned of increasing instability in Chechnya and the surrounding regions. Chechnya's president, Aslan Maskhadov, survived an assassination attempt last month.

Maskhadov, who is on a visit to the United States traveling with a Russian passport, said at a conference Friday that Chechnya would never give up its independence.

"We state proudly that there is not a single Russian soldier on Chechen territory, nor will there ever be," he said in comments shown on Russian television.